Aug 30, 2012 - 9:09 am
I've been asked to explain how MDX-1106 works. I will describe this process in simple laymans terms. As a result it may not be entirely scientifically correct. But the idea and concept are close enough to share during casual conversation.
MDX-1106, also known as BMS-936558, or anti-PD1 is a natural human monoclonal antibody. Antibodies exist as part of our immune system to protect us from bacteria, viruses and infections. It is also known that our immune system is capable of fighting some cancers including kidney cancer. Every day we have mutant cells which are capable of developing into cancer but are erradicated by our immune system. Unfortunately, some cancer has a way of blocking this mechanism allowing for growth.
When a threat from a virus, bacteria or cancer is present, antibodies are produced by what are called B-cells. They attach to the "invader" and then our T-cells attack and destroy them. Once the job is completed, our immune system cells are programmed to "die" off. Their job is done. This "Programmed Die Off" is the key.
Some cancers can trigger this PD1 (programmed die off) molecule turning off the immune system too soon. Cancer can grow and spread undeterred.
MDX-1106 can be produced in the lab. Administered through an IV, the MDX attaches to this programmed die off molecule preventing the die off. As a result, the cancer cells are no longer able to hide and our system identifies the cancer as an invader attacking them. This process is referred to as Immunotherapy. Response rates are in the 30% range at this point.
MDX-1106 is still in the investigative stages and is not approved by the FDA. It is available in clinical trials but it is not widely available. New trials are taking place with MDX being used in combination with other drugs such as Votrient.
MDX-1106 and combinations of it with other drugs is showing great promise in our battle against many cancers not just kidney cancer. Melanoma and prostate cancer have also shown positive responses. It has also been shown that even after discontinuation of administration of MDX there has been a prolonged effect and benefit to responders.
This is a nutshell, across the kitchen table type of description of MDX-1106. Please don't hold me liable for errors in interpretation. But it is close enough for general discussion.