Therapeutic uses of anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 antibodies

George K Philips, Michael Atkins
International Immunology 2015, 27 (1): 39-46
Despite extensive investigation over the past three decades, cancer immunotherapy has produced limited success, with few agents achieving approval by the Food and Drug Administration and even the most effective helping only a minority of patients, primarily with melanoma or renal cancer. In recent years, immune checkpoints that maintain physiologic self-tolerance have been implicated in the down-regulation of anti-tumor immunity. Efforts to restore latent anti-tumor immunity have focused on antibody-based interventions targeting CTL antigen 4 (CTLA-4) and programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) on T lymphocytes and its principal ligand (PD-L1) on tumor cells. Ipilimumab, an antibody targeting CTLA-4, appears to restore tumor immunity at the priming phase, whereas anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibodies restore immune function in the tumor microenvironment. Although ipilimumab can produce durable long-term responses in patients with advanced melanoma, it is associated with significant immune-related toxicities. By contrast, antibodies targeting either PD-1 or PD-L1 have produced significant anti-tumor activity with considerably less toxicity. Activity was seen in patients with melanoma and renal cancer, as well as those with non-small-cell lung, bladder and head and neck cancers, tumors not previously felt to be sensitive to immunotherapy. The tolerability of PD-1-pathway blockers and their unique mechanism of action have made them ideal backbones for combination regimen development. Combination approaches involving cytotoxic chemotherapy, anti-angiogenic agents, alternative immune-checkpoint inhibitors, immunostimulatory cytokines and cancer vaccines are currently under clinical investigation. Current efforts focus on registration trials of single agents and combinations in various diseases and disease settings and identifying predictive biomarkers of response.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"