By Dylan Housman
A new cancer treatment resulted in remission for every single patient enrolled in a clinical trial at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Eighteen rectal cancer patients took a new drug from GlaxoSmithKline rather than face brutal treatments like chemotherapy and life-changing surgery, and all eighteen saw their tumors completely disappear, according to the trial results published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). It is believed to be the first trial ever conducted in which all subjects became completely cancer-free.
Very proud of our study published in @NEJM. 100% clinical complete response with dostarlimab alone in mismatch repair-deficient locally advanced #RectalCancer. No radiation or surgery! @ASCO #ASCO22 @MSKCancerCenter https://t.co/sZypoHBtj7
— Andrea Cercek (@AndreaCercek) June 5, 2022
There were no signs of a remaining tumor when the patients were given physical exams, endoscopies, PET scans and M.R.I.’s at the trial’s conclusion. None of the patients reported adverse reactions to the drug, which is rare in treatments of its type. About 20% of patients who are treated with checkpoint inhibitors, like GlaxoSmithKline’s dostarlimab, have some kind of adverse reaction, according to The New York Times.
“There were a lot of happy tears,” Dr. Andrea Cercek, an oncologist at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said.
“I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,” said Dr. Luis A. Diaz, the author of the NEJM paper.
Other doctors warned that the trial was small and the results would need to be replicated, but agreed that the treatment showed great promise in treating a cancer with a specific gene mutation which occurs in about 4% of patients. (RELATED: Biden Relaunching Obama-Era Program Aimed At Beating Cancer)
“Very little is known about the duration of time needed to find out whether a clinical complete response to dostarlimab equates to cure,” the University of North Carolina’s Dr. Hanna K. Sanoff wrote in an editorial about the study. But she did call it “compelling.”
Harvard Medical School colorectal cancer expert Dr. Kimmie Ng called the results “remarkable” and “unprecedented,” according to the NYT.