A cancer study published June 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed historic results, with every participant finishing cancer-free and without clinically significant complications.
The trial was sponsored by biotech firm Tesaro, which was later bought by GlaxoSmithKline. It included 12 patients who completed the treatment and follow-ups, all of whom took the drug dostarlimab, The New York Times reported June 5. The patients each had cancers with a gene mutation that prevents cells from repairing damage to DNA.
"I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer," study co-author Luis Diaz Jr., MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, told The New York Times. University of California San Francisco colorectal cancer specialist Alan Venook, MD, who was not involved in the study, agreed, saying the results and the lack of complications were "unheard of."
At $11,000 per dose, dostarlimab is a checkpoint inhibitor drug that unmasks cancer cells, allowing the immune system to find and destroy them, the report said. On average, 1 in 5 patients has an adverse reaction to similar drugs, with 3 percent to 5 percent experiencing severe complications. Dr. Venook said it was not clear why these patients experienced so few side effects, but it may be due to the small study size or the nature of the cancer itself.