Dr. Agarwala on the Role of Cytokines in the Immunotherapy Landscape

Sanjiv S. Agarwala, MD
Published: Thursday, Apr 02, 2015



Sanjiv S. Agarwala, MD, Chief of Medical Oncology, Hematology, St. Luke's Cancer Center and Temple University, discusses the differences between cytokines and other types of immunotherapies.

Cytokines and newer immunotherapies such as checkpoint inhibitors have almost opposite mechanisms of action, explains Agarwala. Cytokines get the immune system going, while checkpoint inhibitors prevent the immune system’s natural breaks from kicking in. Taking the breaks off the immune system with drugs like checkpoint inhibitors clinically seems to be a more effective method, says Agarwala.

However, there may be benefit from combinations therapies that include both checkpoint inhibitors and cytokines, he says. Ongoing studies are examining the combination of pegylated interferon and pembrolizumab in melanoma.


Sanjiv S. Agarwala, MD, Chief of Medical Oncology, Hematology, St. Luke's Cancer Center and Temple University, discusses the differences between cytokines and other types of immunotherapies.

Cytokines and newer immunotherapies such as checkpoint inhibitors have almost opposite mechanisms of action, explains Agarwala. Cytokines get the immune system going, while checkpoint inhibitors prevent the immune system’s natural breaks from kicking in. Taking the breaks off the immune system with drugs like checkpoint inhibitors clinically seems to be a more effective method, says Agarwala.

However, there may be benefit from combinations therapies that include both checkpoint inhibitors and cytokines, he says. Ongoing studies are examining the combination of pegylated interferon and pembrolizumab in melanoma.

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Online CME Activities
TitleExpiration DateCME Credits
Clinical Interchange™: Translating Research to Inform Changing Paradigms: Assessment of Emerging Immuno-Oncology Strategies and Combinations across Lung, Head and Neck, and Bladder CancersOct 31, 20182.0
35th Annual Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium: Innovative Cancer Therapy for Tomorrow® Clinical Vignette SeriesJan 31, 20192.0
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