Keytruda, also known as Pembrolizumab, is a type of immunotherapy medication that is used to treat various types of cancer. It belongs to a class of drugs known as immune checkpoint inhibitors that work by stimulating the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. In this article, we will explore how Keytruda works and its effects on the body.
To understand how Keytruda works, it is essential to understand the concept of immune checkpoints. These are mechanisms that regulate the immune response and prevent the immune system from attacking normal healthy cells in the body. Cancer cells often exploit these immune checkpoints to avoid detection by the immune system. They do this by producing proteins known as checkpoint proteins or immune checkpoint ligands, which bind to receptors on immune cells, preventing them from attacking cancer cells.
Keytruda works by blocking one of these immune checkpoints, known as PD-1 or Programmed Death-1. PD-1 is a receptor found on the surface of T-cells, which are immune cells responsible for detecting and destroying abnormal cells in the body, including cancer cells. When PD-1 binds to its ligand, known as PD-L1, it sends a signal to the T-cell to stop attacking the cell. This mechanism is essential in preventing the immune system from attacking healthy cells, but it can also be exploited by cancer cells to avoid detection.
By blocking the PD-1 receptor, Keytruda allows T-cells to recognize and attack cancer cells. It does this by binding to the PD-1 receptor, preventing it from interacting with the PD-L1 ligand. This activates the T-cells, allowing them to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Keytruda can also block another immune checkpoint, known as PD-L1, which is produced by some cancer cells.
The effectiveness of Keytruda varies depending on the type of cancer being treated. Keytruda has been approved by the FDA to treat a variety of cancers, including melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, head and neck cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, and others. It has shown promising results in clinical trials, particularly in patients with advanced or metastatic cancer.
Keytruda is administered intravenously every three weeks, and treatment duration can vary depending on the individual’s response to the medication. Like all medications, Keytruda can cause side effects, which can range from mild to severe. The most common side effects of Keytruda include fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and skin rash. Less common side effects can include inflammation of the lungs, liver, and other organs, which can be life-threatening in some cases.
Keytruda has shown promising results in treating various types of cancer, particularly in patients with advanced or metastatic cancer. While Keytruda can cause side effects, its benefits often outweigh its risks, making it an important treatment option for cancer patients. As with any medication, it is important to discuss the potential benefits and risks with a healthcare provider before starting treatment.