An experimental cancer drug has shown a success rate of 100% in a small study trial on patients with rectal cancer by doctors at the New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
The 18 participants were reportedly administered an experimental drug called dostarlimab for six months and following the trial, every single one of their tumors was found to have disappeared.
Much remains unknown about the drug and how the treatment trial was successful, however, there appears great optimism amongst scientists who say such a success rate has never been recorded in the history of the field.
The United States Food and Drug Authority (FDA) had only approved the drug for human trial “for at least 300 patients across all tumor types” in early August last year, according to the FDA website.
In an interview with NPR, Dr Hanna Sanoff – who is one of the people who have written about the results – explained the mechanism by which the drug works.
“This drug is one of a class of drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors. These are immunotherapy medicines that work not by directly attacking the cancer itself, but actually getting a person’s immune system to essentially do the work. These are drugs that have been around in melanoma and other cancers for quite a while, but really have not been part of the routine care of colorectal cancers until fairly recently,” she explained.
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She also added that the drug had no severe side-effects for the participants of the study.
According to another study by Dr Anthony Markham, only 10 per cent of the patients participating in the experimental trial experienced adverse effects, such as, anaemia, nausea and fatigue.
The group of researchers currently conducting trials of dosterlimab express a sense of optimism around the drug’s potential.
In a review article exploring current literature surrounding the use of the drug in uterine cancer (EC), researchers Dr Lawrence Kasherman, Dr Soha Ahrari and Dr Stephanie Lheureux summarise these feelings stating: “Dostarlimab has shown promising results in early evaluations, and with the completion of ongoing trials in first-line treatment or beyond, its utility in the treatment of advanced-stage EC will become clearer.
Building upon the potential clinical success of these studies, the scientific community is keen to learn more about underlying mechanisms of resistance that could be elucidated from the correlative analyses from these studies. As the ultimate goal of treatment of advanced or recurrent EC is for patients to live better and longer, survival results from combination studies are eagerly awaited to guide the next steps towards achieving this.”