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What type of drug is Imfinzi?

Medically reviewed by Judith Stewart, BPharm. Last updated on June 20, 2023.

Official answer


Imfinzi (durvalumab) is a programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) blocking antibody (also called an immune checkpoint inhibitor). It is used for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer, biliary tract cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma.

What are immune checkpoints?

Immune checkpoints are part of the immune system and their function is to prevent healthy cells from being destroyed when a strong immune response is triggered in the body.

Immune checkpoints are activated when proteins on the surface of T-cells recognize and bind to partner proteins on other cells (such as cancer cells) sending an "off" signal to the T-cells. This prevents the immune system from destroying the cancer cells. When the checkpoint proteins are blocked from binding with their partner proteins, the "off" signal cannot be sent, and the T-cells can then kill the cancer cells.

How does Imfinzi work?

Imfinzi is a monoclonal antibody that binds to programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1)
to block it from binding with the programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1). Blocking this binding boosts the body's immune system response against the cancer cells.

What types of cancer is Imfinzi used to treat?

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
    Imfinzi may be used as a single agent when your NSCLC has not spread outside your chest, cannot be removed by surgery, and has responded or stabilized with initial treatment with chemotherapy that contains platinum, given at the same time as radiation therapy.
    Imfinzi may be used in combination with tremelimumab-actl and platinum chemotherapy when your NSCLC has spread to other parts of your body (metastatic), and your tumor does not have an abnormal EGFR or ALK gene.
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
    Imfinzi may be used with etoposide and carboplatin or cisplatin as your first treatment when your SCLC has spread within your lungs or to other parts of the body, (extensive-stage small cell lung cancer, or ES-SCLC).
  • Biliary Tract Cancer (BTC)
    Imfinzi may be used in combination with gemcitabine and cisplatin when your BTC, including cancer of the bile ducts (cholangiocarcinoma) and gallbladder cancer, has spread to nearby tissues (locally advanced), or has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic).
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
    Imfinzi may be used in combination with tremelimumab-actl to treat hepatocellular
    carcinoma that cannot be removed by surgery (unresectable HCC).

The urothelial carcinoma indication for Imfinzi was voluntarily withdrawn in February 2021.

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