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New bowel tumor drug helped cure cancer in 100% of cases

Published Jun 4th, 2024 1:56PM EDT
A doctor is shown holding a syringe and a drug vial.
Image: Alernon77/Adobe

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GSK announced a major breakthrough concerning cancer therapy. A drug called Jemperli (dostarlimab) showed impressive results in a phase 2 trial at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). The study included 42 patients suffering from mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) locally advanced rectal cancer, a type of bowel cancer.

Used as a first-line treatment and an alternative to chemotherapy and surgery, Jemperli cured cancer in all patients, showing “an unprecedented 100% clinical complete response rate.” Tests that followed showed no evidence of remaining tumors. Moreover, the first 24 of the 42 patients were observed after an average time of 26.3 months, and they showed no signs of cancer resurfacing.

GSK will test the drug in additional studies involving certain types of colorectal cancers.

This new monoclonal antibody drug binds to certain immune cells and prevents cancer cells from evading immune detection. The immune system is then able to kill cancerous growths on its own.

The current standard of care for the advanced rectal cancer type treated with Jemperli consists of two phases. First, patients go through chemotherapy and radiation. After that, they’ll undergo surgery to remove portions of the intestine and surrounding tissue.

As GSK explained in a press release, the current treatment options can have positive outcomes initially. But one-third of patients ultimately die from cancer, as metastasis spreads to other organs. Furthermore, chemotherapy and surgery can have other negative effects on quality of life.

Using a drug to remove cancer completely would be a game-changing procedure, and that’s what GSK is announcing.

GSK presented the new data at the 2024 American Society of Clinical Oncology this week, calling the findings “remarkable.”

“The data showing no evidence of disease in 42 patients is remarkable,” GSK’s Senior Vice President, Global Head Oncology, R&D, Hesham Abdullah, said. “These results bring us one step closer to understanding the potential of dostarlimab-gxly in this curative-intent setting for patients with dMMR locally advanced rectal cancer. We look forward to evaluating dostarlimab-gxly in certain colorectal cancers in our ongoing AZUR-1 and AZUR-2 registrational studies.”

GSK said the patients in the study did not experience adverse events of grade 3 or higher. The drug’s safety and tolerability were “generally consistent with the known safety profile of the agent.” The press release also covers the various adverse reactions patients might experience.

“These findings demonstrate the potential of dostarlimab-gxly as a novel approach to treating locally advanced dMMR rectal cancer that leads to durable complete tumor regression without the need for life-altering treatment,” Andrea Cercek said in a statement.

Cercek is the Section Head of Colorectal Cancer, co-director of the Center for Young Onset Colorectal and Gastrointestinal Cancer, MSK, and Principal Investigator of the phase II study.

“As a clinician, I’ve seen firsthand the debilitating impact of standard treatment of dMMR rectal cancer and am thrilled about the potential of dostarlimab-gxly in these patients,” Cercek said.

For the time being, Jemperli (dostarlimab) isn’t approved worldwide for frontline treatment of advanced rectal cancers. GSK continues to investigate the drug in additional studies involving colorectal cancer patients.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.