Retifanlimab is in clinical development for the treatment of adult patients with squamous carcinoma of the anal canal (SCAC) who have progressed on or are intolerant of platinum-based chemotherapy. Squamous cell cancers (SCCs) are the most common type of anal cancer. SCCs make up around 90% of all anal cancers and are also called epidermoid cancers. This type of anal cancer starts in squamous cells, which make up the lining of the anal canal and anal margin. Locally advanced stage occurs when the cancer has grown outside the organ it started in but has not yet spread to distant parts of the body. While in metastatic stage, the cancer has spread to distant organs or tissues. Current treatment options induce significant acute toxicities, with high rates of dermatitis and gastrointestinal adverse effects.
Retifanlimab is an intravenous drug. It works by binding to protein called PD-1 and blocks its interaction with programmed cell death ligands 1 and 2 (PD-L1 and PD-L2), thereby increasing the immune system’s ability to kill the cancer cells. If licensed, retifanlimab will provide a treatment option for patients with SCAC who have progressed on or are intolerant of platinum-based chemotherapy.