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What type of drug is Libtayo?

Medically reviewed by Judith Stewart, BPharm. Last updated on Feb 23, 2021.

Official Answer


Libtayo (cemiplimab-rwlc) is a programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) blocking antibody (also called an immune checkpoint inhibitor).

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 can't be sent, and the T-cells can then kill the cancer cells.

How does Libtayo work?

Libtayo is a recombinant human immunoglobulin G4 (IgG4) monoclonal antibody that works by blocking PD-1 to inhibit binding with the cancer cell proteins. This means the T cells remain active, so they can attack and kill the cancer cells.

What types of cancer is Libtayo used to treat?

Libtayo is used for the treatment of patients with metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) or locally advanced CSCC who are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation.

Libtayo is used for the treatment of patients with metastatic basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or locally advanced BCC who have received treatment with a hedgehog pathway inhibitor (HHI), or cannot receive treatment with a HHI.

Libtayo is also used for the for the first-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) when tumors have high PD-L1 expression (TPS ≥ 50%) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with no EGFR, ALK or ROS1 aberrations, and is locally advanced (where patients are not candidates for surgical resection or definitive chemoradiation), or metastatic.

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Libtayo Product Label. Available at [Accessed February 22, 2021]
  • National Cancer Institute. Immune checkpoint inhibitors. Available at [Accessed February 10, 2021]

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