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Data from a small clinical trial were released last week to show that a combination of a new, experimental drug that helps the immune system fight cancer with the immunotherapy, Keytruda showed early promise against a variety of cancers.
Immunotherapies, such as Merck’s Keytruda, block the mechanisms that tumours use to evade the immune system. Pfizer’s utomilumab, which targets an antibody known as 4-1BB, stimulates a more intense immune system attack. Researchers are hopeful that combining the two approaches, one that takes the brakes off of the immune system (Keytruda) with one that hits the accelerator (utomilumab), will offer long-lasting protection against cancer without serious side effects.