The findings from a recently held small cancer trial highlighted the fact that every single patient who took part went into remission and is now finding itself being praised as “remarkable” and “unprecedented.”
This past Sunday, a paper was published in The New England Journal of Medicine and it outlines a small study of a group of 18 rectal cancer patients who were given doses of dostarlimab every three weeks over the course of six months and every single one ended up cancer-free, including the very first patient who as of writing is two years out of the trial and still cancer-free.
“I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,” stated one of the authors of the paper, Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr., as reported by The New York Times.
One of the oncologists on staff at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and another of the authors of the paper, Dr. Andrea Cercek, spoke about “a lot of happy tears” flowing at the end of the medical trial.
While highlighting the fact that the study does need to replicated, Dr. Kimmie Ng, who works for Harvard Medical School as a colorectal cancer expert, flagged the trial results as “remarkable” and quite “unprecedented.”
“We initiated a prospective phase 2 study in which single-agent dostarlimab, an anti–PD-1 monoclonal antibody, was administered every 3 weeks for 6 months in patients with mismatch repair–deficient stage II or III rectal adenocarcinoma,” reads the study. “This treatment was to be followed by standard chemoradiotherapy and surgery.”
All of those who took the drug, which is designed to “unmasks cancer cells, allowing the immune system to identify and destroy them,” as stated by the Times, did not need to go any further on to new cancer treatments.
All of the patients in the trial “had a clinical complete response, with no evidence of tumor on magnetic resonance imaging stated the paper. “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 (range, 6 to 25 months). No adverse events of grade 3 or higher have been reported.”
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Hanna K. Sanoff, MD, MPH, did however adive the use of caution but stated that these findings were “very encouraging,” as reported by Science Daily.
“These initial findings of the remarkable benefit with the use of dostarlimab are very encouraging but also need to be viewed with caution until the results can be replicated in a larger and more diverse population,” explained Sanoff.
“The responses in these first 12 of a planned-for 30 patients in the trial were remarkable and exceed what we would expect with the standard chemotherapy plus radiation,” she concluded. “Although quality of life measures have not been reported yet, it’s encouraging that some of the most difficult symptoms, such as pain and bleeding, all resolved with the use of dostarlimab.”