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How does MDX-1106 work?

foxhd's picture
Posts: 3039
Joined: Oct 2011

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.

MedScanMan's picture
Posts: 108
Joined: Jul 2012

I doubt very seriously that there are any "errors in your interpretation". I'm trying to learn as much about RCC as I can, and since my dx and surgery the only true place for learning is here on these boards. Every time I sign on I feel as though I'm doing a continuing education course to renew my CT and MRI licenses. So much knowledge to be gained here. I have one question for you. At what stage is MDX considered an option? For those who would qualify, what procedures need to be followed to be accepted?.....and where are these trials being done? Hey, that was three questions. Still waiting for that MRI report of yours. Hoping for the best.


foxhd's picture
Posts: 3039
Joined: Oct 2011

......That's funny. And It wasn't on purpose....Anyway, Jeff, for my clinical trial, the main qualifications were: Cancer had to be clear cell. Surgery was evidently OK. I had it but I know someone who has been treated wth MDX but is still waiting for his nephrectomy. I believe no other meds to treat kidney cancer can have been recieved. They were looking for treatment naive. I also had to undergo bone scans, mri's, brain scans,2 biopsies, and an ungodly amount of blood work. Blood work is every 3 weeks as is my infusion. CT scans with contrast every 6 weeks. There have been no modifications to my program since starting last year. I am sure I forgot something there.

garym's picture
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009


I have gleaned bits and pieces of how it works from many of your earlier posts, but it is nice to have it all in one place. Your story is one of the most if not the most followed on this board, I am truly thankful for MDX and your presence here and I am excited by the promise MDX holds in our common battle and for future generations. You are a beacon (in more ways than one) of hope to so many here and so many to come, I salute you.

Rock on,


alice124's picture
Posts: 897
Joined: Mar 2012

Excellent Fox. This is a MUST READ for anyone undergoing or considering this treatment or simply trying to explain the process to others. Thank you for recreating.

For the record, Fox started this new thread after John and I spent over 5 hours unsuccessfully searching for his earlier post on this topic. I started searching early yesterday and John picked up the search from home. Neither of us could find.

I think this experience serves as a good reminder to be cognizant that CSN's search engine at present can not be counted on to recover previous posts (at least not quickly) and that impoortant topics like this should be given their own headline/new thread.

Thank you again Fox.

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