New Immunotherapy Therapy Approved for Lymphoma Patients

May 16, 2017

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new kind of immunotherapy drug for adults and children with classical Hodgkin lymphoma who have relapsed after three or more prior lines of therapy.

The approved drug, pembrolizumab (Keytruda), is part of a class of immunotherapy drugs called checkpoint inhibitors that block the PD-1 protein, which is commandeered by cells to avoid detection and attack by the body’s immune system. Since 2015, Keytruda has been approved in patients with advanced bladder cancer, melanoma, head and neck cancer, and lung cancer.

This wave of immunotherapy research, in which Dana-Farber scientists have played a prominent role, focuses on amassing the power of the body’s immune system to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

Margaret Shipp, MD, is also studying the benefits of pembrolizumab (Keytruda) or nivolumab (Opdivo) in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“The compelling early data support the clinical evaluation of PD-1 blockade in specific additional lymphoma malignancies,” Shipp says.

Read more from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and learn more about immunotherapy at Dana-Farber.