Drug Detail

Information about Yervoy

Generic Name
Brand Name (US)
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Drug Type
monoclonal antibody
Approval Status
Approved for a non-GIST cancer
advanced melanoma
Overall Strategy
GIST Tumor Based
Drug Category
CTLA4 inhibitor

Ipilimumab is an immune stimulating drug that is approved for unresectable or metastatic melanoma. It works by blocking CTLA-4, a protein expressed on the surface of some immune cells. Blockage of CTLA-4 has been shown to augment T-cell activation and proliferation. The mechanism of action of ipilimumab's effect in patients with melanoma is indirect, apparently via T-cell mediated anti-tumor response. Interestingly, there are some long-term responses in melanoma (see link below of long-term follow-up of 177 patients). Ipilimumab was the first drug that was able to improve overall survival in melanoma.
Blockage of CTLA-4 in combination with imatinib has been shown to be synergistic in a GIST mouse model. Clinical trials in GIST are planned, although the clinical trial may be with dasatinib, another inhibitor of KIT.
Ipilimumab treatment can result in serious, sometimes fatal, side effects including:
Inflammation of the intestines.
Perforated intestines.
Hepatitis that can lead to liver failure.
Inflammation of the nerves that can lead to paralysis.
Inflammation of the hormone glands, especially the pituitary, adrenal and thyroid glands.
Inflammation of the eyes.
See the Imatinib/Ido link for GIST relevance.
See the prescribing info link for details about side effects.