The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved a new drug, developed by Roche, that has strong potential to be an effective treatment for bladder cancer. The new drug called ‘Tecentriq’ (generically called Atezolizumab) is different than many other cancer treatments in that it uses the patients own immune system cells to attack tumors, rather than the drug itself.
Known as a checkpoint inhibiting immunotherapy drug, it’s still not confirmed whether the drug will prolong life more effectively than conventional treatments. Regardless the FDA has given it initial approval as Roche’s initial testing has shown great promise.
But how exactly does Tecentriq work? It’s quite simple actually. It allow more cells in the immune system to fight the cancer. Certain tumors and cells in the immune system make a protein called PD-L1. This protein, when produced, can bind to T cells called PD-1 (one of the bodies main cancer fighting cells). This is a problem, as the attached PD-L1 inhibitors prevent T cells from attacking cancer cells. What Tecentriq does, is prevent the PD-L1 and T cell bond entirely. This in turn allows the immune system to attack cancer cells with full force.
“Tecentriq is the fourth medicine of a new class called checkpoint inhibitors that work by unleashing the body’s immune system to attack tumors.” – NY Times
Since the drug is using the patients natural disease fighting process, Roche claims it is a much safer drug. According to the companies study, roughly one-third of patients who have a lot of PD-L1 proteins near their tumor will see a successful recovery with 26% experiencing significant tumor shrinkage, and 12% with complete remissions.
As always, the cost is… high. A very big problem for many cancer treatments. With a price tag of $12,500 a month, we hope you have, or can find, the means to afford it if you need it.