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What type of drug is Libtayo?

Medically reviewed by Judith Stewart, BPharm. Last updated on Nov 15, 2022.

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 locally advanced basal cell carcinoma (laBCC) or metastatic BCC (mBCC) that has been previously treated with a hedgehog pathway inhibitor or for whom a hedgehog pathway inhibitor is not appropriate.

Libtayo is also used for the first‐line treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with no EGFR, ALK or ROS1 aberrations either in combination with platinum‐based chemotherapy, or as a single agent in patients whose tumors also have high PD-L1 expression.

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Libtayo Product Label. Available at [Accessed November 15, 2022]
  • National Cancer Institute. Immune checkpoint inhibitors. Available at [Accessed February 10, 2021]

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