First of a new breed of anticancer antibodies approved in Japan

The first in a new class of immune-oncology drugs has been approved for use in Japan. Ono pharmaceuticals’ Opdivo (nivolumab) has been approved for treating melanomas where surgery is impossible.

Nivolumab is part of a new wave of cancer therapies that encourage our immune systems to fight cancers or enhance their performance. It targets programmed cell death (PD1) receptors that are expressed on tumour cell surfaces to ward off detection by the immune system.

Ono developed the monoclonal antibody in conjunction with US biotech Medarex, which was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squib (BMS) in 2009. BMS is developing the drug outside of Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

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