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Immunotherapy helps patients with Hodgkin lymphoma

A recent study has revealed that patients with Hodgkin lymphoma showed improvement when treated with two types of immunotherapy drugs which aid the immune system in recognising and attacking the cancer.

Immunotherapy is a relatively new approach to treating cancer, with scientists developing drugs to boost the body’s natural defence against disease instead of targeting the cancerous cells themselves. Other immunotherapy drugs have been developed to ‘unmask’ biological markers which help disguise the cancer cells from the body’s natural response system.
The trial for the pembrolizumab drug found that 66% of the Hodgkin lymphoma patients who were treated with the PD-1 inhibitor drug had a complete or partial response to treatment. In the trial for nivolumab, patients also showed similar positive results.The drugs, known as pembrolizumab and nivolumab are PD-1 inhibitors, a type of immunotherapy treatment which support the patient’s immune system fight the disease. These drugs block PD-1, a protein on the surface of cells designed to fight disease and deactivates them so that the disease is able to spread without being attacked by the natural immunity soldiers that the body holds.

The research team behind the trials believe that the findings support that immunotherapy – a new and fast-developing approach to treating cancer – also holds huge potential for the future treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma and a large variety of other blood disorders.

Dr Moskowitz was the research leader for one of the trials, and was stated as saying: “These results are quite extraordinary given the dire circumstances these patients were facing. Pembrolizumab has already been approved for patients with advanced melanoma and we’re excited that the drug is producing responses in other cancer types.”

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