20 Jun Have Scientists Found the Cure for Cancer?
By Abigail Macklin
Have you ever heard of a cancer trial that has a 100% success rate? It sounds too good to be true, but this dream became a reality in a 2021-22 study on the effectiveness of the cancer medication Dostarlimab (doh-STAR-luh-mab).
Dostarlimab works by obstructing a protein called PD-1. In the human body, PD-1 stops T cells (a type of white blood cell that fights infections and diseases) from attacking healthy cells. However, for people with cancer, PD-1 also stops T cells from attacking cancer cells, allowing cancer to spread in the body. Dostarlimab solves this issue by blocking PD-1 from binding with PD-L1, a protein that allows cells to escape from being attacked by the immune system. Therefore, obstructing PD-1 permits T cells to attack cancerous cells, slowing the growth of or even destroying new cancerous cells as they appear.
In Dostarlimab’s first released study, the medicine had a 100% success rate. While this is very promising news, the initial study only featured twelve patients with the same type of colon cancer. There are close to 2 million times as many people with cancer in 2023 and over 200+ different kinds of cancer, so this study is too small for us to say with absolute certainty that Dostarlimab will have the same success rate at curing cancer when it is administered to a greater number of patients who have other kinds of cancer. Additionally, researchers haven’t followed the twelve patients in this study for long enough to be sure that their cancer won’t return.
Currently, Dostarlimab is approved only for patients with endometrial cancer, a type of cancer found in the uterus. In a recent trial with nearly 500 participants, patients who were given both chemotherapy and Dostarlimab had an overall survival rate of 83.3%, which was much higher than the survival rate of 58.7% for those treated only with chemotherapy. The larger participant pool may mean that this trial is more representative of the effectiveness of the cancer medication, which is demonstrating great results!
All in all, the future of Dostarlimab seems promising. This drug is new to the world of cancer research, but it is already making a big impact!
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