14 Cancer Patients Now in Remission After Small Experimental Drug Trial

Four people who were successfully treated for rectal cancer in a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering join the trial’s two main investigators.
MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING 

Fourteen cancer patients in the US who all had tumors with a specific genetic mutation are now in remission after a small cancer trial conducted by doctors at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).

The result was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, in which doctors say they initiated a prospective phase 2 study, the treatment of rectal cancer patients who took dostarlimab under the Jemperli brand, an immunotherapy drug used in the treatment of endometrial cancer. The treatment was to be followed by standard chemoradiotherapy and surgery, but patients who went into remission could skip those follow-up therapies.

The study was the first clinical exploration of whether it was effective against rectal cancer tumors.

After at least six months of follow-up, the 14 patients had a complete clinical response, with no evidence of tumors on medical scans and tests, digital rectal exams, or biopsy. No patients had received chemoradiotherapy or undergone surgery, and no cases of progression or recurrence and adverse events of grade 3 or higher have been reported during follow-up of 6-12 months. 

DrAndrea Cercek, Medical Oncology Specialist of MSK, stated that “The immunotherapy shrank the tumors much faster than I expected,” 

“My research nurse Jenna Sinopoli would tell me, ‘The patient has only received one treatment, and already they’re not bleeding anymore, and their terrible pain has gone away.’” 

Dr. Andrea Cercek, Medical Oncology Specialist

The MSK clinical trial investigated if immunotherapy alone could beat rectal cancer that had not spread to other tissues. Cancer has not returned in any of the patients who have been cancer-free for up to two years. 

MSK is now looking for more patients to enroll in the clinical trial.

“Our message is: Get tested if you have rectal cancer to see if the tumor is MMRd. No matter what stage the cancer is, we have a trial at MSK that may help you.”

Dr. Luis Alberto Diaz, Jr., MD 

“It’s the tip of the iceberg” in the fight against cancer. Dr. Diaz added.” 

MSK researchers are also investigating whether the same method can beat other cancers, and they are looking at patients with gastric (stomach), prostate, and pancreatic cancers.

For the full breakdown of the trial, visit  The New England Journal of Medicine

MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING

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