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Checkpoint Inhibitors Immune Modulators

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Checkpoint inhibitors/immune modulators can make cancer cells more susceptible to attack by your immune system

How does it work?

  • Some proteins in immune cells act as "checkpoints,” or brakes, on the immune system response
  • Drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors can be used to “release the brakes” on the immune system, allowing a stronger immune attack against cancer
  • Immune modulators are drugs that "step on the gas" and stimulate an anti-cancer immune response
  • These drugs may be used alone or in combination with other immunotherapies or conventional therapies including chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapies.

For which cancers is it currently used or being studied?

Checkpoint inhibitors:

  • CTLA-4 inhibitors: Ipilimumab (Yervoy®) is currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of melanoma and is being studied for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer and prostate cancer; another CTLA-4 inhibitor, tremelimumab, is also being studied in melanoma and mesothelioma. Ipilimumab is also approved in combination with nivolumab (Opdivo®), a PD-1 inhibitor, for the treatment of melanoma and kidney cancer.
  • PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors: There are currently five approved treatments of this type:
    • atezolizumab (Tecentriq®) for the treatment of bladder and lung cancers;
    • avelumab (Bavencio®) for the treatment of bladder and a type of skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma;
    • durvalumab (Imfinzi®) for the treatment of bladder and lung cancers;
    • nivolumab (Opdivo®) for the treatment of bladder, colorectal, head and neck, kidney, liver, and lung cancers, and melanoma;
    • pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) for the treatment of bladder, pediatric lymphoma, colorectal, esophageal, head and neck, and lung cancers as well as lymphoma and melanoma.
  • Checkpoint drugs targeting a variety of inhibitory pathways are currently in clinical development

Immune modulators:

  • Immune modulators that are currently in clinical development include drugs targeting the immune proteins CD137/4-1BB, CD27, GITR, and OX40. among others

*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.

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