Brand Name: Opdivo
Generic Name: nivolumab
Medication Class: Humanized monoclonal antibody blocking the programmed human death receptor 1 (PD-1)
Similar Drugs: Keytruda (pembrolizumab)
Manufacturer: Bristol-Myers Squibb
Approval Date: December 2014
What is Opdivo and its mechanism of action?
Opdivo is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between programmed death receptor 1 (PD-1) and its ligands (PD-L1 and PD-L2). If you suppose a receptor is a lock, the ligands are the corresponding keys to the lock. Likewise, the PD-1 is a lock and the ligands are the keys that fit right into PD-1. When the ligands interact with PD-1 it sends a signal to cells to go through programmed cell death. In other words, the cell commits suicide.
PD-1s are present on immune cells called T cells. Normally T cells produce chemicals to attack any harmful substances in the body. However, when ligands interact with PD-1s on T cells the T cells shut down and die. Many cancer cells express the ligands (PD-L1) and send it to T cells to prevent an immune response to cancer. Opdivo selectively binds to PD-1 and blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands. Therefore, it allows the T cells to survive and fight off cancer.
What is Opdivo used for treating?
Opdivo is indicated for patients with metastatic squamous and non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer with progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy.
It is also used for treating advanced stage melanoma (skin cancer) which:
Cannot be removed with surgery (unresectable)
Has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized)
Have failed treatment with ipilimumab (another cancer treatment for melanoma)
Showed positive for BRAF mutations (involved in abnormal cell growth)
Have failed treatment with BRAF inhibitors
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