Agilent is Partnering with Pharma to Help Your Immune System Fight Cancer

Major pharmaceutical companies are developing breakthrough treatments that use the body’s own immune system to fight lung cancer.  Agilent is collaborating with several of these pharmaceutical companies to develop relevant diagnostic tests, to identify which patients may be suitable for such treatment.

Lung cancer is the most fatal form of cancer, accounting for one in five cancer deaths globally.  Current treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may improve survival, but rarely cure the disease.  Now, scientists are developing treatments that harness the immune system to fight lung cancer.

Previously, immunotherapy was only considered effective against melanoma (skin) and renal (kidney) cancer.  But recent studies have shown very promising results against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).  These new treatments work by blocking proteins that can suppress the body’s immune system, including PD-1 (programmed death cell protein 1) and PD-L1 (programmed death-ligand 1).

Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) have both introduced new immunotherapy antibodies that target PD-1.  BMS’s Nivolumab (Opdivo®), previously approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of melanoma, has now been approved for the treatment of squamous NSCLC that has failed chemotherapy.  Merck’s Pembrolizumab (Keytruda®), also previously approved for melanoma, has now been designated as a “Breakthrough Therapy” for the treatment of NSCLC.

In conjunction, Agilent’s Dako subsidiary is developing companion diagnostic (CDx) tests that detect PD-L1 expression.  CDx has the potential to make healthcare more effective and to optimize treatment, by helping to identify the specific patients who should be considered for a particular treatment.  Agilent has CDx collaboration agreements with several pharmaceutical companies, including BMS, Merck, Eli Lilly and Pfizer.

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