Medical Research

#6 — The Transformative Impact of a New Cancer Drug: A Case Study of Toripalimab and its 30X cost in the US | by Devang Soni | Nov, 2023

With the recent approval of Chinese cancer drug Toripalimab by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States, it marks a great next step in the fight against cancer. The work that the Chinese researchers have done in medical science is remarkable with the accomplishment and the release of this drug globally. Though there are challenges ahead as it relates to its (30X) cost and accessibility in the US markets.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Cancer, a disease of uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, remains one of the most leading causes of unnatural death around the world. The development of these Cancer drugs take us one step closer to helping fight this disease, gives hope to millions of patients and in many cases, helps in improving survival rates, slowing the progression of the disease and helping enhance the quality of life for patients fighting this illness.

Toripalimab: The drug is called the “beacon of hope” for patients, particularly in treating those with rare and hard to treat cancers. The effectiveness of this drug is high in terms of fighting the cancer cells by empowering the body’s immune system similar to other immunotherapy treatments available in the market.

Here is how I understand Toripalimab works:

  1. How it works: A monoclonal antibody drug, that targets protein called PD-1 (Programmed Death-1) on the surface of T-cells, which is a critical component of the immune system. The PD-1 acts like a “off switch” to help keep the immune system from attacking the normal cells in the body that are fighting cancer cells. The cancer cells have a tendency to exploit this pathway by expressing PD-L1, a protein that binds PD-1, which turns off the immune response against them. The blocking of the PD-1 with Toripalimab, helps in disabling this switch off, allowing the immune system to recognize and destroy the cancer cells. The method of action has been effectively used in treating various types of cancer, specifically the ones that express PD-L1 and thus very likely evade the immune system.
  2. Effectiveness: The phase 3 clinical trials have shown significant improvement in progression free survival (PFS) with recurrent or metastatic nasopharyngeal…

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