JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Nivolumab and relatlimab for the treatment of melanoma.

Drugs of Today 2023 Februrary
Melanoma is a highly lethal type of skin cancer. Although an early diagnosis, in combination with surgery for nonmetastatic melanomas, significantly increases the probability of survival, there are no efficacious treatments for metastatic melanoma. Nivolumab and relatlimab are monoclonal antibodies that selectively interact with and block the proteins programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and lymphocyte activation protein 3 (LAG-3), respectively, and thus, their activation by their cognate ligands. The combination of these immunotherapy drugs was approved in 2022 by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of melanoma. Data from clinical trials indicated that, compared to nivolumab monotherapy, nivolumab and relatlimab produced more than a 2-fold median increase in progression-free survival (PFS) and a higher response rate in melanoma patients. This is an important finding as the response of patients to immunotherapies is limited due to dose-limiting toxicities and secondary drug resistance. This review article will discuss the pathogenesis of melanoma and the pharmacology of nivolumab and relatlimab. In addition, we will provide i) a summary of the anticancer drugs that inhibit LAG-3 and PD-1 in cancer patients and ii) our perspective about the use of nivolumab in combination with relatlimab to treat melanoma.

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