In 2020, about 340,000 people died of rectal cancer. Now a new treatment that hopes to overcome the disease – and possibly for other types of cancer – may be available within a year.
A recent test conducted by researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and published in the New England Journal of Medicine on June 5 yielded unprecedented results: 14 of the 14 patients were in remission for up to two years after treatment. . Four more are being treated
Even better, dosarlimab did not show any side effects or side effects, unlike other treatments. “Radiation is effective in eliminating tumors, but it has a negative effect on the patient. Up to 30 percent of those who need surgery need colostomy bags, ”he said. Andrea Sercek is Sloan Kettering’s oncologist and co-author of the study. ” [Radiation] can also lead to sexual dysfunction. They improve, but they are not functionally the same.
According to Cherchek, the probability of 14 cases in remission is one in a trillion. Based on that, he said, “I’m very optimistic about success.”
He hopes to see the FDA-approved drug “as soon as possible.”
However, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, a biologist, physician and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Diseases: A Biography of Cancer, warns that the release of champagne may be too early.
“I’m glad this drug has responded so well,” Mukherjee told The Post. “I would like it to be repeated in a big trial. It’s an exciting but worrying result for people in our industry. ”
He also warned that the treatment, which he believes could be widely used within a year, is targeted at a very specific population.
“Patients [in the study] They are fighting a specific type of cancer that has been carefully selected and taken with this drug, ”he said.
According to Tserchek, all 18 cases had a form of rectal cancer, in which a gene mutation prevented their cells from repairing DNA damage.
Cercek said only 5-10 percent of people with rectal cancer have this gene – a gene that works poorly because it can’t hide from drugs. As a result, drugs that boost the immune system are very effective.
“There are cells with those disorders in similar percentages to stomach, pancreas and bladder cancer,” he said. “He can work for them too. Our plan is to expand and see it. I think that’s very likely. “
According to Mukherjee, the type of drug used in the study, known as checkpoint inhibitors, is not new – checkpoint inhibitors have been around since 2014 and do not allow cancer cells to be hidden from the immune system, but the selection of patients is surprising.
“Many trials have shown response rates in patients using this drug family, but I have not seen a 100 percent response rate,” he said. “It rejuvenates the idea of using this family of drugs in other cancers. The potential to work with other cancers at this response rate is very interesting.
A few days before the trial, Sasha Roth visited Georgetown University Medical Center for chemotherapy rounds – a rare treatment for mutated colorectal cancer cells – she went to Sloane Kettering for a different opinion.
“They were being amended by the FDA for final approval [to run trials]Roth, now 41, said. “Then I was told that I was a good fit for treatment. Two months later, in December 2019, I was receiving treatment. ”
Treatment required a 60-minute infusion of dostarlimab every three weeks, for a total of nine doses. Roth said he did not feel any negative effects and hoped for the best.
“After the first half month, a biopsy showed that the cancer was gone. “It’s just melted,” he said, still like a man in the ninth cloud. “Six months later, Dr. Cherchek called and asked if he was sitting down. He looked at the scanner and said there was no cancer. I didn’t cry when I heard the news. To be honest, I was shocked. But I jumped up and down.”
Next, Cercek said, “We are focusing on rectal cancer, we can confirm this, and we will continue to work to address other tumors. We also need to understand what these tumors are and the environment in which they live, which makes them so sensitive to therapy.
“I think this will be the next great treasure of medicine,” he said, expecting researchers around the world to work on it.