Williams Cancer Institute

What to Know About Common Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

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What to Know About Common Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Your body is a fascinating organism. Cell to cell your immune system is capable of identifying normal cells and those it considers foreign and potentially harmful.

Checkpoint inhibitors are vital to helping treat cancer.

The basics of how it works: Your immune system responds by attacking the foreign cells and protecting the normal cells.

A whole new level of cancer treatment

What happens on the molecular level in your body is equally fascinating. Checkpoints on certain cellular molecules can be activated or inactivated to compel an immune response.

On the other hand, cancer cells can innovate and use these same checkpoints to avoid an attack by your immune system. This is where strategic drug therapies can be aimed at those checkpoints to give your cancer treatment an advantage.

Like an “off-switch”

Without getting too technical, meet PD-1. This particular checkpoint protein resides on your body’s immune cells called T-cells.

Think of it like an “off-switch”. It helps prevent T-cells from attacking your body’s other cells.

PD-1 joins with the protein, PD-L1, that lives on some normal (and cancer) cells in your body. Their joint effort sends a clear message to the T-cell that it should not mess with the other cell.

Cancer cells can have large amounts of PD-L1. This helps them be evasive against an immune system attack.

Certain antibodies can effectively target PD-1 or PD-L1 and block their joint defensive effort. This boosts your immune response against cancer cells.

Meet the immune checkpoint inhibitors that work

Keytruda (Pembrolizumab)

Opdivo (Nivolumab)

Libtayo (Cemiplimab)

This drug “arsenal” has a reputation for treating a variety of cancers:

  • Melanoma of the skin
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Hodgkin lymphoma

Be aware and informed

It’s important to be fully informed as you begin any drug therapy for cancer treatment. Keeping your immune system in top shape is essential to your treatment success.

We’re prepared to answer all your questions. And we’ll clearly communicate the range of potential side effects you could encounter during your treatment process.

Be confident that cancer immunotherapy research is consistently evolving. We are your cancer treatment advocates and will inform you of solutions that can maximize your body’s immune system to beat cancer.

Contact us about cancer treatment solutions. Schedule a consultation to get answers to the important questions regarding treatment.

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