For decades, scientists and doctors have been trying to find a cure for cancer. People have walked, biked, run, and boated for a remedy.
And, in 2022 February, US President Biden announced the relaunch of the cancer moonshot in order to put an end to this illness.
And, whenever there’s some achievement in the war against this horrible illness, there’s a new opportunity for celebration.
Recently, one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that in one drug trial with 18 subjects diagnosed with rectal cancer, the cancer was treated in all 18 patients.
Rectal Cancer Drug Trial Eliminates Cancer in All Patients
Two doctors from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center wondered what would the effect of applying immunotherapy with a checkpoint inhibitor in the early stages of cancer accomplish.
They wanted to find out if this would be better than using it in the later stages.
Dr. Andrea Cercek and Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr. came together and approached several drug companies. They asked them to fund a clinical trial that would test the use of checkpoint inhibitors in patients with advanced rectal tumors.
These patients’ cancers were confined to one area and it wasn’t spread out elsewhere. In their pursuit of backup, they finally found a company willing to participate.
Tesaro, later purchased by GlaxoSmithKline, agreed to fund their study.
What Did the Researchers Do During the Study?
After the funding was secured, the team recruited patients with this type of colon cancer to participate. The first one was 38-year-old Sascha Roth, an otherwise healthy woman who had received a diagnosis of cancer.
She had a mutation that reduced the chances of chemo helping her so she decided to participate in the trial. Others also joined soon and there was a total of 18 patients.
Each of the participants was given a checkpoint inhibitor dostarlimab which helps the immunity in identifying and destroying cancerous cells.
They took this inhibitor drug (which costs around $11,000 per dose) every three weeks for a period of six months.
Historic End Results
All of the patients no longer had cancer. It couldn’t be detected via physical exam, pet scans, MRI scans, endoscopy, etc.
According to Dr. Diaz, this is the first time that this has happened.
Although this is stunning news, the results need to be replicated before the drug’s effectiveness on some patients can be understood.
Dr. Hanna K. Sanoff from the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center who wasn’t part of the study said that there’s little info about the time needed to discover if a clinical response to this inhibitor is equal to a cure.
Though this study doesn’t announce a remedy, it’s exciting and important news.