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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
  • If checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that let up on the brakes of the immune system, then immune modulators are drugs that "step on the gas" of the immune response

For which cancers is it currently used or being studied?

Checkpoint inhibitors:

  • CTLA-4 inhibitors: 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
  • PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors: Keytruda® and Opdivo® are currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of melanoma after failing prior treatment with Yervoy. Opdivo® is also FDA approved for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Other PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors include MPDL3280A and MEDI4736, and have shown important benefits in patients with advanced melanoma, lung cancer, kidney cancer, and a number of other cancers
  • Other checkpoint inhibitors, including ones targeting the immune proteins LAG-3 and KIR, 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

*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.

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Patient education information supported by a charitable donation from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.
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