Findings about new cancer drug very encouraging: Expert

New Delhi: The findings concerning dostarlimab, an antibody drug, in experimental treatment of rectal cancer patients is very encouraging but there is need for long-term studies to understand the real impact, an expert in cancer treatment has said.

“This new trial at MSKCC in a small number of patients, with locally advanced rectal cancer patients who had MMR (MisMatch repair) deficiency, have shown total disappearance of tumour without any additional treatment in all 100 percent of them. This is very encouraging but we must note that long term studies are required to understand the real impact,” Dr. (Col.) R. Ranga Rao, Chairman, Oncology, of Paras Hospitals in Gurugram said.

“The drug is still investigational and the trial is limited to patients of a specific type , that constitute about 4 to 5 percent of rectal cancers. While this is highly encouraging, we must not prematurely jump to conclusions that we have found a cure for all cancers, all stages, and no chemotherapy, surgery is ever required,” he added.

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He said it is well recognized that Immunotherapy with PDL 1 blockers in MMRd patients is effective.

“Already immunotherapy has made a big difference in the field of cancer of all types. Several earlier trials have shown encouraging responses,” Dr Rao said.

In what appears to be a miracle and ‘first time in history’, a small clinical trial has found that every single rectal cancer patient who received an experimental treatment found that their cancer had vanished.

According to New York Times, in the small clinical trial conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 18 patients took a drug called Dostarlimab for around six months, and in the end, every one of them saw their tumours disappear.

Dr Luis A. Diaz J. of New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) said this was “the first time this has happened in the history of cancer”.

According to experts, Dostarlimab is a drug with laboratory-produced molecules and it acts as substitute antibodies in the human body.

The cancer is undetectable by physical exam; endoscopy; positron emission tomography or PET scans or MRI scans, added Experts. This proves that Dostarlimab can be a ‘potential’ cure for one of the most deadly common cancers.

According to New York Times, patients involved in the clinical trial earlier underwent treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and invasive surgery that could result in bowel, urinary, and even sexual dysfunction. The 18 patients went into the trial expecting to have to go through these procedures as the next step. However, to their surprise, no further treatment was needed.

The findings of this trial have shocked experts and they have pointed out that complete remission in every single patient is “unheard-of”.

Dr Alan P. Venook, who is a colorectal cancer specialist at the University of California, said that the complete remission in every single patient is “unheard-of”. He hailed the research as a “world-first”.

Experts stated that the research was impressive as not all of the patients suffered significant complications from the drug trial.

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