A recent article from WebMD Health News discusses the promise—and limitations—of immune therapies. These therapies—”checkpoint inhibitor” drugs like Keytruda, Opdivo, and five others approved by the FDA—have successfully treated cancers ranging from melanoma to types of lung, colorectal, and kidney cancers. As MSK’s Dr. Allison Betof Warner says in the article, they have saved numerous lives and been a “game changer.”
Still, checkpoint inhibitors have limitations. Sometimes, drugs will initially shrink a cancer and then stop working. Some patients see no benefit, including 30 to 40 percent of advanced melanoma patients. Medical professionals also can’t predict which patients will experience serious side effects. This is why, Betof Warner concludes, “Immune therapy is an incredible tool. But it’s not a magic bullet.” Researchers are working to continue improving checkpoint inhibitor efficacy.