A patient’s cancer cell can have on its surface a complex molecule that activates the PD-1 receptor on a patient’s T-cells. This linkage (or “bond”) then prevents their T-cells from doing their job.
Drugs known as “ANTI-PD-L1” break that bond which then allows the tumor cells to be attacked by T-cells.
PD-1 & CTLA-4
A patient’s cancer can express molecules that activate PD-1 or CTLA-4 inhibitory “receptors” on their “T-cells” or other cells in the immune system. T-cells are the cells in our immune system that ordinarily fight cancer. When these receptors are activated on the T-cells, they are prevented from attacking the cancer cells.
Drugs known as “ANTI PD-1” and “Anti-CTLA-4” work to “release the brakes” – allowing the cancer cells to be detected and attacked by T-cells.
A very important finding about immunotherapy is that when a patient responds to the treatment, the response can last longer than conventional chemotherapy…on the order of 1-2 years rather than 1-2 months. Scientists are studying why some patients’ cancers respond, as well as why other patients’ cancers do not. Combinations of these drugs with chemotherapy and/or other targeted therapies are also being investigated and appear extremely promising.
Ask your oncologist about the latest advancements in immunotherapy treatment for lung cancer.