June 20, 2016 – Checkpoint Inhibitors


Anchor lead: A class of cancer drugs that have helped treat many types of cancer are now being tried with brain tumors, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Checkpoint inhibitors are much in the news lately for the treatment of cancers of all types, even when they’re advanced.  Michael Lim, a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins who does extensive research on this unique class of drugs, says it turns out that just as with many things in life, timing is important.

Lim:  We found that when we gave a certain cocktail of these checkpoint inhibitors these mouse tumors responded but if we gave them at a late point in time versus an early point in time these tumors may not necessarily respond. Or they responded very differently. So that, we think, is a very classic example of how tumors evolve.  We also think that the environment of the brain is a very different environment from the rest of the body.  :23

Lim is hopeful that even within the singular environment of the brain, checkpoint inhibitors will still be able to halt or slow down cancer progression.  He says several studies are currently underway with the same drugs that have produced dramatic results with tumors elsewhere in the body.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.