(ORDO NEWS) — A small trial of a new cancer drug that targets the “shield” that protects tumors from the immune system surprised scientists: all study participants who completed the course went into remission.
Due to the small sample size, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions.
In a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine , scientists gave 16 colorectal cancer subjects a drug called dostarlimab every three weeks for six months.
At the time of writing, 12 participants have completed the course and four are still in treatment.
To the surprise of the researchers, there was no trace of the tumors of all 12 people that could be detected using MRI, PET, endoscopy and biopsy. After a 12-month follow-up, all 12 patients did not relapse and all 16 patients were alive.
No serious side effects were reported, but 12 participants experienced various minor side effects such as rash and fatigue.
How does dostarlimab work?
Dostarlimab is a monoclonal antibody to PD-1 (Programmed cell death 1). PD-1 is a membrane protein that is expressed on the outside of tumor cells and acts as a “shield” from the immune system, telling immune cells not to attack the tumor and allowing it to grow uncontrollably.
It is because of PD-1 that cancer cells go unnoticed by the human immune system.
The results of the new study are extremely encouraging, but the small sample makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions.
The scientists conclude that despite promising results, the drug trial should be expanded to large-scale experiments in the near future.
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