The Nivolumab Myth

Myth: Nivolumab is not effective at treating cancerous tumours.

Truth: This is false.

Nivolumab is a therapy that has been identified for the treatment of skin cancer which cannot be surgically removed or has metastasized. Nivolumab is an antibody that develops and upkeeps an individual’s immunity. Specifically, this antibody binds to the programmed cell death protein (PD-1), allowing T-cells to attack cancer cells. Recently, there has been promise that nivolumab could initiate the development of vitiligo spots in skin cancer patients, enabling physicians to identify tumour relapse.

A study published in JAMA Dermatology followed a client with right knee melanoma. After four years of melanoma removal that had spread in his lymph node, it metastasized into his right pelvis and lower thigh. Although nivolumab made the cancer metastasis disappear, post-nivolumab treatment reduced melanin antibodies and T-cells in the epidermis of the skin, causing skin pigmentation. Researchers suggest that nivolumab attacks melanoma and normal melanocytes that result in tumour shrinkage and vitiligo depigmentation.

Reference

  1. Nakamura Y, Teramoto Y, Asami Y, et al. Nivolumab therapy for treatment-related vitiligo in a patient with relapsed metastatic melanoma. JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(9):942-944. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.1679

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