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By Tapan Das and Binodh DeSilva

Tapan DasBinodh DeSilvaIn a recent issue of Science, Kristen L. Mueller explained that “For cancer treatment, 2011 marked the beginning of a new era. Fifteen years after Science published a paper showing that antibodies blocking an inhibitory receptor on the T cell surface unleash these T cells to kill tumors in mice, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved such an antibody for use in treating melanoma.” In the same issue, Padmanee Sharma and James P. Allison of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center noted “immune checkpoint therapy, which targets regulatory pathways in T cells to enhance antitumor immune responses, has led to important clinical advances and provided a new weapon against cancer.”

Since the approval of ipilimumab in 2011, a lot has happened in the field of immuno-oncology. Immune checkpoint inhibitors have reignited enthusiasm for the development of medicines based on cancer immunotherapy, and they demonstrated high response rates and prolonged overall survival in cancer patients. Immune checkpoints control the balance of co-stimulatory and co-inhibitory signals that have key roles in maintaining self-tolerance and in regulating the T-cell responses. Two notable immune checkpoint molecules that negatively regulate cytotoxic T-cell activation are cytotoxic T-lymphocyte protein 4 (CTLA-4) and programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1).

Remarkable progress has been made in recent years in clinical development with PD-1, PD-L1, and other checkpoint candidates. Most notably, regulatory approvals in 2014 for anti-PD-1 antibodies brought therapies for metastatic melanoma to patients.

The upcoming 2015 AAPS National Biotechnology Conference session Stand Up to Cancer—Huge Promise of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors will highlight recent advances in development of immune checkpoint inhibitors and discuss enormous potential of the targets for treatment of various cancers including recent success of nivolumab in lung cancer. That therapy uses the checkpoint inhibitors elicited durable clinical responses, and remarkably, no clinical signs of cancer were seen in a fraction of patients for many years.

Join us for this presentation by Alan Korman, Ph.D., (vice president, Discovery Research, Bristol-Myers Squibb), and Priti Hegde, Ph.D., (associate director, Genentech/Roche) on the promises of immune checkpoint inhibitors in our fight against cancer.

Disclaimer: The views contained in this blog represent our own personal opinions, and not of Bristol-Myers Squibb. For information on regulatory approval of medicine in the USA, please visit the U.S. FDA website at www.fda.gov.

Tapan Das, Ph.D., is a director in the Analytical Development group of Bristol-Myers Squibb. He leads the Mass Spectrometry and Biophysics Center of Excellence engaged in advanced characterization and analytics for biologics development. Das has served AAPS in various roles, most recently as the chair of the Biotechnology section.
Binodh DeSilva, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of Immunochemistry and Biomarker Development at Bristol-Myer Squibb Company in Lawrenceville,NJ.