After a clinical colorectal cancer drug trial, 12 people were found to be cancer-free, giving the rest of the world hope for a cure. What is the drug? How effective is it and will it be used to treat other types of cancers as well? ? All your questions will be answered in this blog.

Cancer is the biggest cause of death worldwide, with approximately 10 million fatalities in 2020, accounting for nearly one in every six deaths. Breast, lung, colon, bone, rectum, and prostate cancers are the most frequent cancers reported. As a result, the news of a cancer medicine that cures cancer has been the talk of the town for the past few days! 

Let’s take a deeper look at the drug trial and the patients involved to better understand how this cancer medicine works. 

Cancer Drug Trial

A small medical trial run by researchers from New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center resulted in every patient who was treated going into remission effectively.

The drug used is called Dostarlimab and is offered under the brand name Jemperli. It is an immunotherapy drug used to treat endometrial cancer. But this was the first clinical trial to see if it might also be used to treat rectal cancer tumours. Participants were given a dose of Dostarlimab every three weeks for six months, with the intention that they would need to follow up with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. However, researchers discovered that the  cancer medicine had completely vanished, being undetectable by physical exam, endoscopy, PET or MRI scans, in every case simply by using the experimental cancer medication.

Participants of the Cancer Drug Trial

The 12 patients in the study had tumours with a genetic mutation known as mismatch repair deficit (MMRd), which is found in a subset of about 5% to 10% of rectal cancer patients. Patients with these tumours are less responsive to chemotherapy and radiation therapies, necessitating surgical removal of their tumours. 

According to the latest reports, the ongoing study has resulted in the disappearance of tumours in at least 14 individuals and counting, with no significant side effects. There was no need for conventional therapies such as radiation, surgery, or chemotherapy, and the disease has not reappeared in any of the patients. 

How Does the New Cancer Medicine Work? 

According to the US National Cancer Institute, this immunotherapy focuses on proteins called checkpoints, which are produced by both immune system cells and cancer cells. Immune checkpoints, which prohibit aggressive immune responses, can occasionally block immune cells from destroying cancer cells successfully.

Dostarlimab is a checkpoint inhibitor, which means it unbolts an immune cell’s brakes, allowing it to recognise and fight cancer cells. MMRd cells, which have so many mutations, appear especially weird when the brakes are removed from immune cells. As a result, the immune cells launch a considerably more powerful attack to completely eradicate the cancer cells.

Will this Medication be Available to Other Colorectal Cancer Patients? 

It’s unclear whether the outcomes of this cancer drug trial will be applicable to a larger group of people with rectal cancer. Future trials will aim for heterogeneity in age, underlying illnesses, and tumour size to provide more information about whether patients might benefit from this immunotherapy or not.

Hence, although this trial has shown remarkable results, more extensive research and data are needed for it to be generalized to everyone with rectal cancer. 

In conclusion, this achievement in cancer research could lead to much significant advancement in the treatment of cancer patients in the coming years. However, for the time being, if you or someone in your family is at risk of cancer, make sure to visit the hospital to get regular screenings, and live a healthy lifestyle that excludes any risk factors assisted with carcinogens.

Book your appointment for a screening today at Ayu Health Hospital or call us at +91 – 6366 100 800 for a consultation.

About the Author

Dr. Shivakumar Uppala
Dr. Shivakumar Uppala
MBBS, MS - General Surgery, MCH - Surgical Oncology at AyuHealth | Website | + posts

Dr. Shivakumar Uppala is renowned as one of the best Cancer Specialist Doctors in the country, has performed more than 500 surgeries till now, and is an experienced surgical oncologist as well as a consultant. He is practicing at Ayu Health Hospital, Bangalore.  He is a specialist in Surgical Oncology and MS - General Surgery Laparoscopic Surgeon.