NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 8,458 terms related to cancer and medicine.

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PD-L1
A protein that acts as a kind of “brake” to keep the body’s immune responses under control. PD-L1 may be found on some normal cells and in higher-than-normal amounts on some types of cancer cells. When PD-L1 binds to another protein called PD-1 (a protein found on T cells), it keeps T cells from killing the PD-L1-containing cells, including the cancer cells. Anticancer drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors bind to PD-L1 and block its binding to PD-1. This releases the “brakes” on the immune system and leaves T cells free to kill cancer cells.