The immune system’s capacity to distinguish between normal and “foreign” cells in the body is a crucial function. The immune system may then target the alien cells while leaving the healthy ones alone. It does this by employing “checkpoint.” Immune checkpoints are molecules on the surface of specific immune cells that must be activated (or inactivated) before an immune response can begin. The immune system’s capacity to distinguish between normal and “foreign” cells in the body is a crucial function. The immune system may then target the alien cells while leaving the healthy ones alone. It does this by employing “checkpoints.” Immune checkpoints are molecules on the surface of specific immune cells that must be activated (or inactivated) before an immune response can begin. Cancer cells sometimes find ways to use these checkpoints to avoid being attacked by the immune system. But drugs that target these checkpoints hold a lot of promise as cancer treatments. These drugs are called checkpoint inhibitors.
Checkpoint inhibitor drugs that target PD-1 or PD-L1
PD-1 is a checkpoint protein found on T cells, which are immune cells. It usually functions as an “off switch,” preventing T cells from attacking other cells in the body. When it binds to PD-L1, a protein found on certain normal (and malignant) cells, it does this. When PD-1 attaches to PD-L1, the T cell is effectively told to ignore the other cell. PD-L1 is abundant in certain cancer cells, which helps them hide from an immune response. Monoclonal antibodies that target PD-1 or PD-L1 can prevent cancer cells from attaching to them, boosting the immune response against them. These medications have shown a lot of promise in the treatment of some malignancies.
PD-1 inhibitors: These drugs are given by IV (intravenously). Examples of drugs that target PD-1 include:
2. Nivolumab (Opdivo)
PD-L1 inhibitors: Examples of drugs that target PD-L1 include:
- Atezolizumab (Tecentriq)
- Avelumab (Bavencio)
- Durvalumab (Imfinzi)
Checkpoint inhibitor drugs that target CTLA-4
CTLA-4 is a protein found on certain T cells that work as an “off switch” to keep the immune system under control.
Ipilimumab (Yervoy) is a monoclonal antibody that binds to CTLA-4 and inhibits its function. This can help the body’s immune system fight cancer cells more effectively.
This medication is used to treat skin cancer melanoma and is still being investigated for other malignancies.
Side effects of checkpoint inhibitors
The following are the most frequent checkpoint inhibitor adverse effects:
- Pneumonitis Diarrhea (inflammation in the lungs)
2. Itching and rashes
3. Hormone imbalances are a problem for some people.
4. Infections of the kidney
If the adverse effects are severe, your doctor may decide to stop using the checkpoint inhibitor for a while to enable the body to heal. Medication can typically assist with less severe side effects.