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Updates to Clinical Information on Anticancer Immunotherapy
Korean J Clin Pharm 2018;28(1):65-75
Published online March 31, 2018
© 2018 Korean College of Clinical Pharmacy.

Eunjoo Choi and Jae Wook Yang*

The Institute of Clinical Research and Practice, College of Pharmacy, Sahmyook University, Seoul 01795, Republic of Korea
Correspondence to: Jae Wook Yang, College of Pharmacy, Sahmyook University, 815 Hwarangro, Nowongu, Seoul 01795, Republic of Korea
Tel: +82-2-3399-1607, Fax: +82-2-3399-1617
Received November 8, 2017; Revised December 29, 2017; Accepted January 4, 2018.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Objective: Over the last several years, immunotherapy has become one of the most promising therapeutic options for cancer. This study aims to summarize the updates on cancer immunotherapy focusing on immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as programmed cell death-1 (PD-1), programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) inhibitors, which have received attention as new anticancer therapeutic agents.
Methods: A literature survey was carried out on PubMed to identify high-impact papers on cancer immunotherapy from 2010. The most recent data on clinical efficacy and safety have been included highlighting the response characteristics to recently approved immunotherapeutic agents.
Results: In various cancers, immune checkpoints are a means for cancer cells to evade the immune system. Furthermore, CTLA-4 and PD-L1 can be overexpressed, allowing malignant cells to evade T-cells. Numerous clinical trials have been performed to seek appropriate indication of these products in various cancer types. Among them, the most conspicuous types are melanoma, non-small-cell lung cancer, and head and neck cancer. The approval of ipilimumab by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commenced a new era of cancer immunotherapy. This was followed by the approval of nivolumab and pembrolizumab. Currently, combination therapies are being investigated for various cancer types.
Conclusion: In this study, we reviewed recently reported scientific and clinical evidence for currently approved immune checkpoint inhibitors. Although these novel checkpoint inhibitors are ever evolving for cancer therapies, there exist limitations that need to be overcome, indicating the necessity for further studies aiming to improve their efficacy, toxicity, and cost.
Keywords : CTLA-4, PD-1, PD-L1, checkpoint inhibitor

March 2018, 28 (1)
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