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Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Trial Makes Cancer Disappear

Every rectal cancer patient who got an experimental immunotherapy treatment went into remission, according to a small clinical trial performed by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. When the results were announced, one of the participants, Sascha Roth, was ready to go to Manhattan for weeks of radiation therapy, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering. That’s when her physicians informed her that she was cancer-free.

To date, 14 patients have shown the same astonishing results. The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Sunday. All of the patients had rectal cancer that had progressed locally and had an uncommon mutation known as mismatch repair deficiency (MMRd).

They were given a six-month course of treatment with dostarlimab, an immunotherapy medicine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, which also helped fund the study. According to the researchers, the cancer was gone in every single one of them, undetected by physical examination, endoscopy, PET scans, or MRI scans. According to The New York Times, the medicine costs around $11,000 each dose. It was given to each patient once every three weeks for six months, and it works by exposing cancer cells to the immune system, allowing it to recognize and eliminate them.

“The therapy is for a kind of rectal cancer in which the DNA repair machinery is malfunctioning. When this mechanism fails, there are more protein mistakes, which the immune system detects and destroys the cancer cells.” The patients continued to show no signs of cancer after six months or more of follow-up — without the need for standard treatments such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy — and the cancer has not returned in any of the patients, who have now been cancer-free for six to 25 months after the trial ended.

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