FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., June 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — For a long time, we have waited to hear the words 100% complete response and cancer in the same sentence. Now Williams Cancer Institute has it, but don’t assume the cancer cure is here just yet. The study published by Cercek et al. in the New England Journal on June 5, 2022, is an excellent achievement for immunotherapy. There is a catch, though; this was in a group of patients that have a deficient ability to repair DNA errors in cancer. What does that mean? When DNA is copied, there is a check mechanism like a "spell checker." If the spell check is disabled, then more spelling mistakes are made. This means that the copied DNA will have more differences than the original. These differences allow the immune system to have more targets than the normal cells, which technically contain the original copy of DNA since all cancer originates from a normal cell. So, what is the problem with this deficient ability on DNA repair? Well, it is only found in the minority of cancers. So, this effective treatment was so only in a small group of patients; most cancer patients still will not benefit. But there still is hope.
The drug used, dostarlimab, is a PD-1 inhibitor, a class of immunotherapy drugs first gaining FDA approval in 2014. Dostarlimab, brand name Jemperli, gained FDA approval in endometrial that lacks the DNA repair in 2021. So, is dostarlimab superior to the other drugs such as Keytruda and Opdivo approved back in 2014? Dr. Jason Williams, author of "The Immunotherapy Revolution," says, I think we will need to see more head-to-head studies. You would think that all the PD-1 inhibitors should be similar, but there can be differences in their binding capacity, resulting in clinical differences, adds Dr. Williams. This study shows that immunotherapy is the future, and more patients, especially those with limited treatment options, need to be given a chance with immunotherapy, states Dr. Williams. In addition, we know that injecting immunotherapy directly into the tumor allows for more combinations of drugs which can be more effective, says Williams. We know how to make more cancers respond to immunotherapy; it just needs further studies to become the standard of care, adds Dr. Williams. There are many aspects beyond just the immunotherapy drugs; that is one reason I wrote my book was to give that information to the patient so they can maximize their chance of immunotherapy success, states Dr. Williams. Indeed, things are moving fast in immunotherapy for cancer, and this study gives much hope that what was achieved in this small group of unique patients will soon be obtainable for all cancer patients.
Dr. Jason Williams is the author of "The Immunotherapy Revolution, The Best New Hope for Saving Cancer Patients’ Lives" and the founder of Williams Cancer Institute. www.williamscancerinstitute.com +1-954-530-4606
SOURCE Williams Cancer Institute