Liquid biopsies using biomarkers in droplet digital PCR offer a non-invasive method for evaluating immunotherapy efficacy in the most lethal forms of skin and lung cancer
Of the more than 200 different types of cancer we have identified, those that affect the skin and lung are among the most common. Together, they represent about one-fifth of all new cancer diagnoses (1)(2)(3)(4). Immune checkpoint inhibitors, drugs that boost the body’s T-cell anti-tumor response by removing the brakes that typically prevent the immune system from killing tumor cells, have greatly improved clinical outcomes for patients with melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). One commonly targeted molecular brake is programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1), a receptor found on the surface of T cells. By preventing PD-1 from binding to its target on cancer cells, programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) allows T cells to attack the tumor – which is why anti-PD-1 antibodies, such as pembrolizumab and nivolumab, are now approved first-line therapies for patients with advanced melanoma and NSCLC (5)(6). Clinical pathologists measure the expression of PD-L1 in tumor tissue to identify patients who score high for PD-L1 expression and therefore might derive the most benefit from immunotherapy.
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