A new cancer treatment is 100% effective in a small trial
A small glimmer of hope in what looks like a world ravaged by mass shootings and soaring gas prices: A small trial of a new cancer drug in 14 colorectal cancer patients has eliminate 100% of the tumor in each patient. The New York Times called the results “astonishing” and word quickly spread around the world.
And while 14 patients is still a very small sample size for a study, oncology experts point out that it is still literally unknown for any intervention to completely eliminate cancer in every person studied. “All 14 patients? The odds are extremely low and really unknown in oncology,” Andrea Cercek, lead study author and an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, told The Washington Post.
The drug will of course require further trials, but for now those who have been touched by cancer and those in the research community are celebrating what could be a game-changer for cancer treatment.
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The actual study was published in the Journal of New England Medicine and detailed how the current approach to treating rectal cancer, while effective in giving a 77% survival rate for 3 years for many patients, is also “exhausting”. A combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy can lead to complications such as,
- Intestinal dysfunction
- Sexual dysfunction
Therefore, the search for a treatment that can be effective but minimize some of the more serious complications. In this case, the study treatment was dostarlimab, a new intravenous drug specially designed to treat cancer. It blocks a protein in cancer cells that cancer uses to prevent the immune system from fighting cancer.
Dostarlimab-gxly (Jemperli, GlaxoSmithKline LLC) was approved by the FDA in August 2021 for adult patients with recurrent or advanced solid tumors deficient in mismatch repair (dMMR) who had no other treatment options. According to the FDA, some of the adverse effects of the drug included,
- Acute kidney injury
In the colorectal cancer study, 9 doses of IV dostarlimab were given over a 6-month period to all 14 patients who had not yet started any other type of treatment. All the patients also had the same genetic instability in their cancer, called mismatch repair deficit. This genetic trait is a deficiency in the body’s normal function to “fix” errors that occur during cell division and lead to mutations. According to the Washington Post, 5-10% of all rectal cancer patients have this genetic deficiency, which generally makes chemotherapy less effective for them.
At the start of the study, all the patients presented with “knobby and discolored” tumours. But by the end of the six months? All traces of the tumors had completely disappeared. All biopsies, scans and physical exams revealed that there was no longer a single lump of cancer.
Even more remarkably, the patients were diverse and none suffered serious side effects from the drug; none require further processing to date. At present, four other patients are undergoing treatment with the same drug and so far show the same positive pattern of complete disappearance of the cancer.
Hope for the future
While experts still warn that much more research needs to be done – and even these patients have been following for years to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back – it does offer a ray of hope. The drug may be an option for other adults with cancer who also have mismatch repair deficiency and it could hopefully lead to more cancer breakthroughs in the future.
Some experts have also pointed out that the trial could raise awareness of the importance of genetic testing in cancer, as treatment can be tailored to the type of genetic traits involved in cancer, such as mismatch repair deficiency. Treatment can then be tailored to the type of genetic traits involved in the cancer.
Cancer is a disease that shows no mercy, claims victims of all ages and scars families for generations, so any hope on the horizon is celebrated by many. On social media, many people expressed their joy that the lawsuit could give way to more breakthroughs in the future.
“This is wonderful news!!!” commented Warren Pughsley. I am always delighted to hear some people talk about cancer. My wife didn’t, so I feel like every time I see people succeed, she played a part in it because she was working on the field. Congratulations to the patients and their families! God protects you!”
And Sascha Roth, the first patient in the trial who was even able to continue her running regimen thanks to her drug treatment in 2019, has already lost her father to cancer and will soon lose her mother to cancer. . She said she felt tremendous gratitude and hope for what this trial had given her.
“I feel a universal sense of gratitude — but also of hope for others,” she told The Washington Post. “Hope for all cancers.”