18 people in a restricted clinical trial tried a drug called Dostarlimab for six months and saw their cancer vanish completely
In what appears to be a miracle and a first in history, every single rectal cancer patient who received an experimental therapy had their disease vanish, according to a small clinical trial.
According to the New York Times, 18 patients in a limited clinical trial headed by specialists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK or MSKCC) received Dostarlimab for six months and saw their tumours shrink.
The results of this important restricted trial were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Founded in 1884 as the New York Cancer Hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is a cancer treatment and research centre in the Manhattan borough of New York City.
What is rectal cancer?
Given that the medication was administered to individuals with rectal cancer, it is critical to be aware of this problem.
The rectum, which is the last few inches of the large intestine, is where cancer starts. It begins at the end of the colon’s last segment and ceases when it reaches the anus’s little, narrow passage.
The cancers of the rectum (rectal cancer) and the colon (colon cancer) is referred to as “colorectal cancer” when they occur together.
The miracle Dostarlimab drug and its findings
According to the clinical study, a monoclonal antibody named Dostarlimab was administered every three weeks for six months to treat a specific form of Stage II or III rectal cancer.
Polyclonal antibodies are made from a range of immune cells, whereas monoclonal antibodies are made from identical immune cells that are all clones of a single parent cell.
Immunotherapy alone, without the use of chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, was found to be capable of completely curing individuals with a kind of rectal cancer known as ‘mismatch repair deficient’ cancer.
The therapy was completed for all 18 patients, and they were monitored for six to 25 months afterwards. According to the study, no incidences of progression or recurrence were identified throughout the follow-up period.
The response was very speedy, with 81 per cent of patients seeing symptom relief within nine weeks of commencing the treatment.
In the next phase of the research, the 18 patients had to undergo surgeries. They were, however, startled to learn that no more therapies were necessary because of the absence of any progression or recurrence of the tumours.
Mechanism behind the novel treatment
Colorectal, gastric, and endometrial cancers are the most common ‘mismatch repair deficient’ cancers. Patients with this ailment lack the genes necessary to fix inaccuracies in DNA that arise spontaneously as cells replicate.
Immunotherapy belongs to a class of drugs known as PD1 blockades, which are currently preferred over chemotherapy and radiation for the treatment of certain malignancies.
PD1 is a protein that controls immune system processes, including suppressing T-cell activity, and PD1 blockage treatment aims to free the T-cell from this repression.
Treatment is ‘miraculous’ but expensive
The immunotherapy treatment can cost around Rs 4 lakh per month, with patients needing the treatment for six months to a year.
Therefore, the cost of this treatment is believed to be a major hurdle for most of the patients who might think to undergo the same.
Most cancer patients, especially in underdeveloped countries, are not in a position to afford this treatment while others may end up using their life savings for the treatment.