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Is There a Cure for Cancer?

July 06, 2022 -
By unikey

On June 23rd 2022, the highly anticipated scientific article regarding the 100% successful drug trial for rectal cancer was published by Cercek et al. (2022). These unexpected findings were released on June 5th 2022, and we finally have the science behind this advancement. 

This drug trial consists of patients with mismatch repair-deficient locally advanced rectal cancer. The doctors planned to administer a drug called neoadjuvant dostarlimab every three weeks for six months and then follow up with standard chemoradiotherapy and then a surgery called mesorectal excision to cut out the remaining tumour. However, after the six months of drug administration, doctors found using endoscopic evaluation and magnetic resonance imaging that there was no evidence of tumour left in all 12 patients. None of the patients therefore needed chemoradiotherapy or surgery. 

Mismatch repair-deficient rectal cancer makes up 5-10% of all rectal cancers, it is a cell mutation that causes certain genes involved in repairing mistakes made when DNA is copied in a cell, thus creating errors in the division process. These cancer cells make high levels of proteins that prevent the activation of T cells. T cells attack cancer cells. Neoadjuvant dostarlimab is an immunotherapy drug which works by blocking these proteins in cancer cells that inhibit the activation of T cells, thus enabling T cells to recognise and kill those cancer cells as well as slow the growth of the tumour. 

A 100% success rate in a drug trial for cancer has never been seen before, even more surprising is the fact that almost all patients did not experience any adverse side effects. Although this experiment only consisted of 12 patients and a very specific form of cancer, it is still a huge step in scientific discovery. Future research looks to replicate these findings on a larger scale. It is still unknown however whether this really is a ‘cure’ for cancer as cancer can never be said to be cured, but we can be cautiously optimistic with this new intervention.

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