A Molecular and Preclinical Comparison of the PD-1 targeted T cell Checkpoint Inhibitors Nivolumab and Pembrolizumab

10 Jul 2017

T cell checkpoint inhibition has a profound impact on cancer care and the two Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) targeted antibodies nivolumab and pembrolizumab have been leading this therapeutic revolution. Their clinical comparability is a highly relevant topic of discussion, but to a significant degree is a consequence of their molecular properties. Here we provide a molecular, preclinical, and early clinical comparison of the two antibodies, based on the available data and recent literature. We acknowledge the limitations of such comparisons, but suggest that based on the available data, differences in clinical trial outcomes between nivolumab and pembrolizumab are more likely drug-independent than drug-dependent.