In a medical trial, 12 patients in the United States were completely cured of rectal cancer without requiring any surgery or chemotherapy.
- The study was done by doctors from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York.
GS III- Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- What are the findings?
- What is this deficiency, and how was it cured?
- When can such a treatment be accessible in India?
What are the findings?
- The trial used a monoclonal antibody called dostarlimab every three weeks for six months for the treatment of a particular kind of stage two or three rectal cancer.
- The trial showed that immunotherapy alone – without any chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery that have been staples of cancer treatment – could completely cure the patients with a particular kind of rectal cancer called ‘mismatch repair deficient’ cancer”.
- All 12 patients had completed the treatment and were followed for six to 25 months after.
- No cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during the follow-up.
- The response too was rapid, with symptoms resolving in 81% of the patients within nine weeks of starting the therapy.
What is this deficiency, and how was it cured?
- ‘Mismatch repair deficient’ cancer is most common among colorectal, gastrointestinal, and endometrial cancers.
- Patients suffering from this condition lack the genes to correct typos in the DNA that occur naturally while cells make copies.
- The immunotherapy belongs to a category called PD1 blockades that are now recommended for the treatment of such cancers rather than chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
- PD1 is a type of protein that regulates certain functions of the immune system, including by suppressing T cell activity, and PD1 blockade therapy looks to release the T cells from this suppression.
When can such a treatment be accessible in India?
- The problem with immunotherapies is that they are expensive and unaffordable for most people in India
- An immunotherapy treatment can cost around Rs 4 lakh per month, with patients needing the treatment for six months to a year.
- Precision medicine, such as using particular immunotherapy drugs for particular types of cancers, is still at a nascent stage in India.
- It would take at least ten years for it to become commonplace.
-Source: Indian Express