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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.

View Conference Coverage
Online CME Activities
TitleExpiration DateCME Credits
Community Practice Connections™: New Frontiers in Immuno-Oncology for Microsatellite Instability-High CancersAug 29, 20182.0
Community Practice Connections™: Evolving Applications of Immuno-Oncology Strategies: New Approaches, New Combinations, and New Ways to Care for Lung, Head and Neck, and Bladder CancersAug 31, 20182.0
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