Experimental drug causes cancer to disappear for all patients in trial
It's believed to be the first time this has ever happened.
An experimental cancer drug has shocked researchers after it caused every patient in a clinical trial to enter complete remission.
Dostarlimab was given to 14 patients with colorectal cancer as part of a small trial run by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, sponsored by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
A year after the trial's completion, doctors found that every single one of the patients had their cancer go into complete remission and were unable to find signs of the disease in their bodies.
"I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer," Dr. Luis Alberto Diaz, Jr., one of the trial leaders and a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told the New York Times.
He added that the discovery was "the tip of the iceberg."
Researchers are now looking to investigate if the same method can be used on patients with gastric, prostate and pancreatic cancers.
Colorectal cancers is the third most-common type of cancer in the US, and kills around 50,000 people every year.
🚨 Breaking #ASCO22 News: Breakthrough findings published in @NEJM by MSK experts @AndreaCercek & Luis Diaz show 100% complete response rate in all patients who received #immunotherapy treatment for mismatch repair deficient locally advanced #RectalCancer. https://t.co/xlUfR9CKQz
— Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (@MSKCancerCenter) June 5, 2022
The patients involved in the study all had a type of rectal cancer that tends to be resistant to chemotherapy and radiation and is known as mismatch repair-deficient (MMRd) rectal cancer.
Between five and 10 percent of all rectal cancer patients are thought to have MMRd tumors.
As part of the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, participants received 500mg of dostarlimab every three weeks for six months.
Researchers wrote: "At the time of this report, no patients had received chemoradiotherapy or undergone surgery, and no cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during follow-up."
"The results enabled us to omit both chemoradiotherapy and surgery and to proceed with observation alone."
They added that the results now need to be replicated on a much larger scale though before the treatment can hailed as a miracle cure.
"Although the results of our study are promising, especially given that 12 consecutive patients all had a clinical complete response, the study is small and represents the experience of a single institution," they wrote.