In 2022, the world was taken by storm as a clinical study of Dostarlimab successfully cured all 12 patients of rectal cancer. Now, just over a year later, scientists have successfully made more incredible leaps toward making cancer survivable. As the exciting field of oncology marches on the innovations being made are fascinating - and have incredible potential for reshaping the survivability of cancers.
Immerse yourself in a journey to explore the forefront of cancer research and treatment, where groundbreaking advancements of this year have already unfolded.
The Yale University Trial - Osimertinib
In the spring of 2023, Yale reported that a trial showed significant success in lowering the risk of patients dying from lung cancer. This trial, called the Adaura trial, is the culmination of decades of research across over 20 countries. The results of the late-stage study, led by Yale University, reduced the risk of patients dying - by a whopping 51%. According to Yale,
“After five years, 88% of patients who took the daily pill after the removal of their tumor were still alive, compared with 78% of patients treated with a placebo. Overall, there was a 51% lower risk of death for those who received osimertinib compared with those who received placebo.”
For now, this technology only seems to work on a specific subsection of patients, namely, those who have the EGFR mutation. As not all patients with lung cancer have this mutation, the practice will need to expand to include genetic testing, so that a subsection of folks can reap the benefits of this new treatment option. But, the success of this trial is still incredible, effectively improving the lifespan and quality of life of a considerable swath of individuals who are suffering from lung cancer.
The City of Hope Trial - AOH1996
Yale isn’t the only location of successful cancer-curing innovations this month. City of Hope has also made a remarkable leap towards improving the survivability of cancers. The California-based research hospital published incredible results in their preclinical animal research - all tumor cells in the study were eradicated.
Unfortunately, animal studies don’t always translate into success in treating cancer patients. Though the notion of such a successful preclinical study is promising, we won’t be able to draw many conclusions until there are more clear results from human experimentation.
Though it’s still too early to confirm their effectiveness in humans, the extant results are considerably exciting. According to WebMD, the treatment, if it is successful in human trials, could potentially be used to treat future patients with breast, prostate, brain, ovarian, skin, cervical, and even lung cancer.
The phase I clinical study on human patients is currently active, and we’ll likely know very soon how effective it truly is. The research team is reportedly very optimistic about the active study thus far.
Dostarlimab Update: One Year After the Breaking News
I’m ecstatic to report that as of the publishing of this article, the twelve patients from last year’s study are still cancer-free. And the technology that was developed has made ripples in the oncology community:
“There are now multiple PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors approved for use in the United States and worldwide—and there are more in pipelines. Dostarlimab is already on the market. It is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with mismatch repair deficient recurrent or advanced endometrial cancer, as determined by an FDA-approved test, that has progressed on or following prior treatment with a platinum-containing regimen.”
- Dr. Richard M. Goldberg, Professor Emeritus, West Virginia University Cancer Institute; Member, Fight Colorectal Cancer board of directors and medical advisory board
In January 2023, a phase 2 confirmatory clinical study indicated that the drug is both significantly effective and safe. With approval by the FDA in late 2022, Dostarlimab is now available for medical use and has been successfully treating patients with stage III or IV rectal cancer.
In June 2023, a phase 3 global study confirmed that the use of “Dostarlimab plus carboplatin–paclitaxel significantly increased progression-free survival among patients with primary advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer”. With such a collection of promising results, it’s easy to become optimistic about the potential further applications of this piece of medical technology.
In the ever-evolving landscape of medical science, the breakthrough discovery of a tumor-killing pill, along with the continued efficacy of Dostarlimab, and the groundbreaking Yale study stand as beacons of hope, illuminating the path toward a future where cancer may no longer hold the same grip it once did. As we've delved into the remarkable strides made in this field, it's evident that collaboration, innovation, and unwavering dedication are propelling us closer to the elusive goal of a cancer-free world.
While challenges undoubtedly remain, the strides taken thus far remind us of humanity's capacity to conquer even the most formidable adversaries. By staying informed and supporting ongoing research, we all become integral players in this collective fight against cancer. The journey from groundbreaking discovery to widespread application may be intricate, but with determination and perseverance, we move ahead with renewed optimism.
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