Rectal Cancer Immunotherapy Experimental Drug Shows Positive Results

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Experimental Drug
Courtesy of National Cancer Institute (Wikimedia Common PDM)

If a patient has been diagnosed with rectal cancer, they might be wondering, what is rectal cancer? This type of cancer is quite treatable, and the earlier it is diagnosed, the better the chance of cure. However, even if cancer has advanced, it may still be treatable for many years. Rectal cancer typically begins as polyps. More serious polyps, or adenomas, are considered cancerous. Screenings for rectal cancer are available and may reduce your risk by up to 90 percent. Research by the Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center is focused on finding ways to prevent polyps before they turn into tumors.

Surgery is the most common treatment for rectal cancer. If the tumor is small, it can be removed through the anus with a local excision. If cancer has spread to nearby organs, pelvic exenteration is performed. This procedure involves surgically removing the rectum and nearby organs. Patients with stage zero or one disease will often undergo this procedure. In more advanced settings, however, a colostomy may be necessary to remove the cancerous portion of the bowel.

There are three main stages of rectal cancer: stage one, stage two, and stage three. In stage two, cancer has spread to the rectum wall. In stage three, cancer has spread to the tissues surrounding the rectum. Stage four is considered metastatic and has spread to distant organs. It can metastasize to any part of the body. The stage of cancer should determine the treatment for stage four.

Rectal Cancer Immunotherapy Trial Shows Positive Results

An immunotherapy experimental drug called Dostarlimab is showing promising results in treating stage II or III rectal cancer. The experimental drug has undetectable side effects and is safe for use in people with certain genetic conditions. Several patients had no evidence of tumor or no residual disease after treatment. The results are encouraging for people at high risk of developing rectal cancer since immunotherapy may help prevent the spread of the disease to other parts of the body.

Experimental Drug
Courtesy of IBM Research (Flickr CC0)

The researchers behind the study were impressed with the results of this experimental drug. The study included four people with rectal cancer. They received the immunotherapy experimental drug without the use of chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. All four patients had a mutation in a gene that prevented cells from repairing DNA damage. These mutations are found in approximately four percent of all cancer patients.

A new study at Sloan Kettering Medical Center in New York reported positive results from a small number of rectal cancer patients. The experimental drug Dostarlimab is a type of immunotherapy experimental drug. It’s sold under the brand name Jemperli. However, the researchers say Dostarlimab was initially tested against rectal cancer tumors. Despite its early results, the experimental drug has shown remarkable promise in preventing rectal cancer. It may be the first immunotherapy drug to induce complete remission in a small number of patients.

The study’s results show that Dostarlimab can replace standard treatments for rectal cancer. However, this experimental drug costs a fortune. It costs $11,000 per dose in the United States. It unmasks tumors by latching onto proteins present only in rectal cancer cells. This, in turn, alerts the immune system to attack cancer. The trial was conducted at Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center.

In what seems to be a very optimistic breakthrough for the therapy of rectal cancer, a small experimental drug trial conducted in the U.S. discovered every patient who received the experimental treatment successfully went into remission.

The Dostarlimab experimental drug is an immunotherapy medication also used in endometrial cancer experimental drug treatment. Still, this first clinical exploration will reveal whether this is effective against rectal cancer tumors.

The early outcomes indicate the experimental drug is surprisingly effective, with the investigation group saying the victorious cancer remission was remarkable for a cancer cure intervention.

The medical oncologist from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), Luis Diaz Jr., believed this was the first of its kind in the history of cancer.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Marrissa Kay


CBS News: Every patient in this experimental drug trial saw their cancer disappear, researchers say; by Natacha Larnaud
Science Alert: Every Single Patient in This Small Experimental Drug Trial Saw Their Cancer Disappear; Peter Dockrill
Yahoo! Finance: Every patient in experimental drug trial saw their cancer disappear, researchers say; by Natacha Larnaud

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of National Cancer Institute -Wikimedia Commons –  Wikimedia Public Domain
Inset Image Courtesy of IBM Research’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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