Complete cancer remission in drug trial development

June 8, 2022
Complete cancer remission in drug trial development

A small clinical trial of the drug dostarlimab in the US has virtually rid each of its 18 participants of colorectal cancer, one of the most dangerous common cancers known to man. Doctors, stunned with the effectiveness of the drug, are now expanding the trial to include gastric, prostate, and pancreatic cancer patients.

Dostarlimab (TSR-042) works as a monoclonal antibody drug that attaches to a protein called PD-1 on the surface of cancerous cells, thereby helping the immune system to recognise and destroy these cells. Normally, just a 500mg dose of the drug, administered intravenously over a 30-minute period, is effective.

Dostarlimab is already used to treat around 100 women with advanced endometrial cancer in the UK, where the drug is given every three weeks for 12 weeks.

It was administered every three weeks for six months in the trial involving 18 colorectal cancer patients in the US. The patients have tumours with a specific genetic profile which is known as mismatch repair-deficient (MMRd) or microsatellite instability (MSI) – part of just a small fraction of all rectal cancer patients thought to have MMRd tumours which can be targeted by dostarlimab. It was noted to have caused mild side effects in this trial.

The patients had gone through previous treatments for colorectal cancer before the trial, including chemotherapy and risky surgeries, but none during.

Surprisingly, at the 12-month follow up, all the tumours had seemingly disappeared from their bodies, with no trace found with any of the available screening methods; no further treatments were required.

Oncologist Dr. Luis Diaz, a member of the White House’s National Cancer Advisory Board, said: “This is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer […] it’s really exciting. I think this is a great step forward for patients.”

“There were a lot of happy tears,” supplemented Dr. Andrea Cercek, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center. “It’s incredibly rewarding to get these happy tears and happy emails from the patients in this study who finish treatment and realise that they can retain normal bodily functions that might otherwise be lost to radiation or surgery.”

[Treatment such as surgery and radiation for colorectal cancer can have permanent effects on fertility, sexual health, and bowel and bladder function.]

However, despite the groundbreaking results, doctors and researchers insist on larger studies to ascertain the complete clinical effects of dostarlimab.

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Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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