Is nivolumab a checkpoint inhibitor?

Nivolumab is a new buzzword in the world of cancer treatment, but what exactly is it? And more importantly, does it really help fight cancer? Let’s take a deep dive into nivolumab and explore whether this drug qualifies as a checkpoint inhibitor.

Understanding Cancer

Cancer cells are notorious for evading detection by our immune system. The immune system works by identifying foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses and destroying them before they wreak havoc on our body. However, cancer cells are sneaky little buggers that use checkpoint pathways to avoid detection by our immune system.

Fun Fact: Checkpoint pathways refer to specific signaling pathways within the T-cell receptor complex that either enhance or suppress cellular responses.

What Are Checkpoints?

Think of checkpoints as security barriers at an airport. They prevent foreign entities from getting past and causing chaos beyond the gates. Similarly, when activated, checkpoint inhibitors give our immune system clearance to attack invading pathogens such as cancer without harming normal tissues surrounding tumours.

Checkpoint inhibitors have proven to be effective drugs in combating certain types of cancers (1). But not all checkpoint inhibitors are created equal — some work better than others.

Types of Checkpoint Inhibitors

There are two types of checkpoint inhibitors: CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4) blockers and PD-1/PD-L1 (programmed cell death protein 1/programmed death-ligand 1) blockers:

CTLA-4 Blockers

CTLA-4 regulates early stages of an anti-tumor response within secondary lymphoid organs such as lymph nodes.
These blockers release the suppression exerted on T-cells during their activation phase (2).

Some examples include:
Ipilimumab (Yervoy)

PD-1 and PD-L1 Blockers

PD-L1 is one of the two identified ligands for PD-1. It constitutes a mechanism adopted by cancer cells for immune evasion.
These blockers release T-cells from suppression within tumor microenvironments that express the checkpoint protein (2).

Some examples include:
Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)
Nivolumab (Opdivo)

What Is Nivolumab?

Nivolumab is an immunotherapy drug classified as a monoclonal antibody that binds to programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1). Referred to as a humanized monoclonal antibody, this drug makes sure your body can accept it without any issues (3).

How Does Nivolumab Work?

The binding of nivolumab blocks the interaction between PD-Ligand 1(important in immune system modulation) and it’s receptor antitumor response thereby promoting damage control following invasion by antigens, including cancerous ones (4).

Effectively, blocking these interactions results in unleashing suppressed T-cell activation mechanisms leading to cancer progressive destruction (5).

Which Cancers Are Treated with Nivolumab?

Nivolumab has been approved by FDA for treating numerous kinds of cancers such as:
Metastatic melanoma
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer(NSCLC)
And various other advanced solid tumors showing progression despite conventional therapy or relapse after early cure via appropriate usage involving genomic profiling adjustments according to personalized medicine principles.

Sorry FOLKS! If you thought nivolomob cured all types of #cancer 😔

Is Nivolumab A Checkpoint Inhibitor?

In simple terms: YES!

While pembrolizumap targets both PDL-13 and CTLA-4, nivolumab focuses solely on blocking the PD-1 receptor.

By inhibiting this checkpoint pathway and ultimately promoting T-cell activation, Nivolumab qualifies as a checkpoint inhibitor according to American Cancer Society (6).

Comparing Nivolumab To Other Checkpoint Inhibitors

Nivolumab is not only effective in treating several forms of cancer but also boasts less severe side-effects than some other types of immune-based therapies (7).

Some commonly observed negative effects include:
And my personal favourite….
Musculoskeletal pain…. yikes!

In comparison with ipilimumab(Yervoy), another CTLA-4 inhibitor; nivolmub shows improved response rates, durable remission times and lower toxicity levels making it a more popular option.


Checkpoint inhibitors are redefining the world of cancer treatment by giving our body’s natural defenses an extra boost against tumours taking hold.. These drugs have proven tremendously effective in various cancers traditionally seen as incurable via conventional therapy methods.

However, always remember that each patient’s illness is distinct; combination treatments involving lifestyle adjustments should be made per individual personalized medicine principles for optimal efficacy.

So if you’re struggling to decide whether you should go hard or go home attempting dietary regimes or opt for more aggressive therapeutics such as chemotherapy/radiotherapy then definitely consider discussing your situation with trained medical professionals who can recommend based on informed insights including analyses from genomic profiling tests

Take good care!!

Emalify 🤖🍻

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