Doctors have seen "unheard of" results in a small drug trial on a group of cancer patients.
As reported by The New York Times, scientists conducting a drug trial on 12 patients with rectal cancer saw a 100% success rate with a new treatment.
Called Dostarlimab, the drug uses laboratory-produced molecules as a substitute for antibodies in the body, with Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr. of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center publishing the incredible results in a paper for the New England Journal of Medicine.
Those conducting the trial found that the drug obliterated the cancer in each patient, with Dr. Diaz telling The Times: "I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer."[[imagecaption|| A bowel screening test (stock image). Credit: David Gee / Alamy]]
And Andrea Cercek, MD - the lead study author on the paper and an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - revealed "there were a lot of happy tears" when the patients were delivered the news.
After each patient took Dostarlimab every three weeks for six months, the cancer in each was undetectable by physical exam, endoscopy, PET scans, or MRI scans when the trial concluded.
Throughout the trial, each dose is said to have cost approximately $11,000.
What's more, the paper states that none of the patients experienced any serious complications throughout the trial. The Times reports that, on average, around one-in-five patients would usually have some kind of adverse reaction to drugs like Dostarlimab - which is known as a "checkpoint inhibitor".
Additionally, cancer specialist Dr. Alan P. Venook from the University of California - who was not a part of the study - described the results as "unheard-of".
Although, Dr. Venook did add that the lack of adverse reactions seen in the trial probably means that either not enough patients took part or that "somehow, these cancers are just plain different."[[imagecaption|| An illustration of a cancer cell. Credit: Sebastian Kaulitzki / Alamy]]
Harvard Medical School colorectal cancer expert Dr. Kimmie Ng has also stated that although these results need to be replicated, they are in no doubt "remarkable" and "unprecedented".
The paper also states that a "longer follow-up is needed to assess the duration of response".
However, one of the patients involved in the trial, a Ms. Roth, told The Times that she had planned to move to New York for further treatment once the trial had come to an end. In order to preserve her fertility, she had even had her ovaries removed and put back under her ribs to protect them from radiation treatment.
However, when Dr. Cercek told her the results of the trial and that there was "absolutely no cancer" in her scans, she said her family couldn't believe the news. Ms. Roth did not have to undergo further treatment, per The Times.