Immunomodulator vs. Immuno-inhibitor: What’s the Difference?

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What is the difference between an immunomodulator and an immuno-inhibitor? Dr. Paul Paik explains how one enhances the immune system and the other shuts down the immune system. Tune in to learn more of the characteristics of each. 

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.   

Susan Leclair:

I’m going to keep you on the hot seat for just a—a definition. What’s the difference between an immunomodulator and a sometimes immuno-inhibitor but an inhibitor in—in general sense?

Don’t they both work on the immune system? Is there a difference? 

Dr. Paik:                

Right. I—I think there are, at this point, in terms of the various kinds of things that manipulate the immune system, they—there are different terms associated with them. But they all fall under the same umbrella.  Some of these things are what are called checkpoint inhibitors.  So they prevent an interaction that your cancer cell generates to basically shut down the immune system.  But there are also signals that enhance your immune system’s response that we’re taking a look at. And so these would be immunomodulators that are sort of on the positive side of modulating.

And then there are a whole host of other kinds of treatments that manipulate the immune system, which really haven’t seen much play in lung cancer that are seeing a lot of play in other kinds of cancers, these kind of virus-directed therapies, reprogramming T cells. 

These all fall under the—the umbrella of what I would define as immuno-modulating treatments, because that’s essentially what they do.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on September 4, 2015