Metabolic Imbalance Linked to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Resistance

Source: Pharmacy Times, November 2019

According to a report by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, metabolic imbalance in some patients with cancer following treatment with the checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab is associated with resistance to the immunotherapy agent and shorter survival.

The study, published in Nature Communications, reported that the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan to a metabolite, called kynurenine, in cancer cells is a response to treatment with nivolumab, a PD-1 antibody. This chemical change was linked to worse survival in patients with advanced melanoma and kidney cancer, according to the study.

Checkpoint inhibitors halt the immune response that cancer cells often use to escape attack by immune T cells. In some patients and certain cancer types, the drugs have proven highly effective in unleashing the T cell attack on tumors, but overall, checkpoint inhibitors help only a minority of patients.

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