Yervoy is a monoclonal antibody drug. It has been successful in treating multiple kinds of cancer. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2020 to be used in combination with Opdivo to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma.1

Yervoy’s Success in Treating Other Cancers

Yervoy has been successful in treating several different cancers, including

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Small cell lung cancer

Yervoy is commonly used in a multimodal approach, meaning it is combined with other immunotherapy drugs, like Opdivo, and other cancer therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Combination treatment generally leads to better outcomes than what can be achieved with one drug or one kind of cancer therapy alone.

How Yervoy Works

As a form of cancer immunotherapy, Yervoy stimulates the immune system to target and kill cancer cells. Specifically, Yervoy is a CTLA-4 immune checkpoint inhibitor, meaning that it enhances the activation and proliferation of T-cells. (T-cells are a type of white blood cell. They stimulate the immune system and kill foreign cells, infected cells, and cancer cells.) Combining Yervoy with Opdivo, a PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, results in even greater T-cell function.

Combination Treatment With Opdivo

Yervoy, in combination with Opdivo, is a first-line therapy for unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma. It was approved as such by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on October 2, 2020. The clinical trial that supported its use found Yervoy with Opdivo to be significantly more effective than chemotherapy in improving overall survival. The results of another clinical trial suggest that Yervoy with Opdivo is also effective in treating relapsed malignant pleural mesothelioma.2

Side Effects of Yervoy

Common side effects of Yervoy include

  • Low blood counts (healthy red blood cells)
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Elevated pancreatic enzymes
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Skin rash

Yervoy (Ipilimumab)