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In 2013, Jimmy Carter's miracle remission of cancer was achieved thanks to a new type of therapy: checkpoints inhibitors. Checkpoints are signals used by cells to modulate the immune response either by stimulating it or inhibiting it. Cancer cells hack this pathway and express molecules activating inhibitory checkpoints. This silences the immune response, hence making the cancer cell "invisible" to the immune cells. Checkpoints inhibitors prevent this escaping mechanism. This is great because therapies using checkpoint inhibitors could be used in combination with more traditional anti-cancer approaches.

Checkpoint inhibitors and PD-1/PD-L1 therapies have made the headlines in the past years. But what are they exactly?

The potential of checkpoints was only discovered a few years ago but these types of molecules can boast more than 1500 clinical trials (in 2017 - time of writing) going on currently (which is an insane number). It is estimated that by 2025, the market for inhibitors could reach near €30Bn!

Let’s explore what checkpoints inhibitors are and why they are a very popular new type of therapy against cancers

My helpful checkpoint inhibitor infographic


Science Articles
  1. Robert C. et al. (2015) Nivolumab in previously untreated melanoma without BRAF mutation. N.Engl.J.Med.
  2. Tang, J. et al. (2017) Comprehensive analysis of the clinical immuno-oncology landscape. Ann.Onc.
  3. Pardoll DM. (2012) CThe blockade of immune checkpoints in cancer immunotherapy. Nat.Rev.Cancer
  1. Evalute Report 2017, “PD-1/PD-L1 Combinations Drive the Development of New Immunotherapies”
  2., “Are PD-1 and PD-L1 Checkpoint Inhibitors As Good As We Thought?”
  3., “Immune checkpoint inhibitors to treat cancer”

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