Cancer Completely Disappears In All Patients During Experimental Drug Trial
Great news for the cancer curing world! Every single rectal cancer patient who participated in a small experimental drug trial conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center had their cancer go into remission.
A total of 14 participants all had a locally advanced stage of rectal cancer with a rare mutation called mismatch repair deficiency (MMRd). They all were given an immunotherapy treatment for six months, and cancer disappeared from all of them when it was done. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The immunotherapy drug was called dostarlimab, from the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, which helped fund the research. When the trial was over, the cancer was not able to be detected in any of the participants by way of a physical exam, endoscopy, PET scans or MRI scans.
Dostarlimab is quite a pricy drug, costing about $11,000 per dose. It was administered to each patient every three weeks for the entire six months. It works by exposing the cancer cells so that the immune system can in theory identify them, and then destroy them—which seemed to work!
“This new treatment is a type of immunotherapy, a treatment that blocks the ‘don’t eat me’ signal on cancer cells enabling the immune system to eliminate them,” CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus explains. “The treatment targets a subtype of rectal cancer that has the DNA repair system not working. When this system isn’t working there are more errors in proteins and the immune system recognizes these and kills the cancer cells.”
After six months, the participants all had follow-ups, and all remained cancer-free. None of them had to receive any of the standard cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Wild!
“Amazing to have every patient in a clinical trial respond to a drug, almost unheard of,” Agus said, adding that it “speaks to the role of personalized medicine — that is identifying a subtype of cancer for a particular treatment, rather than treating all cancers the same.”
Additionally, none of the patients had any bad side effects from the drug, the way some other standard treatments can bring.
“Surgery and radiation have permanent effects on fertility, sexual health, bowel and bladder function,” Dr. Andrea Cercek, a medical oncologist and principal investigator in the study, said in an MSK news release. “The implications for quality of life are substantial, especially in those where standard treatment would impact childbearing potential. As the incidence of rectal cancer is rising in young adults, this approach can have a major impact.”
Of course, more research will be needed after such a small study, but there is only hope from here on out: Researchers say that the fact that every single person in the study was in remission is very promising for a larger study.
To learn more about the study, check out the video below.
What are your thoughts on the results of this study?