An immunotherapy-based drug was able to eliminate a rare disease in 100% of right-handed patients in a clinical study. The results are from New York scientists and were published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The drug is expected to be launched in Brazil in August (see details below).
The drug Dostarlimab was given every 3 weeks for 6 months. After treatment, one patient did not need chemotherapy or radiation therapy or surgery.. They continued for at least 6 months after the end of therapy (the longest time was 25 months, just over two years). The tumor did not reappear at all..
The study was performed on 12 people with local but advanced rectal tumors, the last part of the large intestine. All patients underwent a specific and rare molecular change that made the cancer sensitive to the drug.
- New types of cancer vaccine can prevent “leakage” of tumors through mutations, research in ‘Nature’ says
Dr. Rachel Riechelmann, a clinical oncologist at the ACCamar Cancer Center in São Paulo, explained that this type of approach, with immunotherapy, was already used in cases of metastasis, when the cancer had already spread to several organs.
“It was the first time they had tested it on a tumor without metastasis,” says the doctor.
He explained that in the case of tanning cancer, the standard treatment is chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. However, when the tumor has an alteration seen in the patients under examination – between 1% and 3% of cases – it becomes sensitive to this immunotherapy.
“It simply came to our notice then. [o tratamento] it will be for a small group of patients where the tumor has developed through this molecular alteration, ”explains Riechelmann.
The oncologist added that although the number of patients is small, the rare change is enough to make the medication effective. However, more studies are still needed. “The more you collect, then publish, present, the better,” he says.
Dostarlimabe has already been approved for use in Brazil by the National Agency for Health Care (Anvisa) in March this year and is expected to be launched in August, according to the manufacturer GSK.
For now, however, admission is for the treatment of only one type of endometrial cancer (the inner layer of the uterus); there is still no recognition of rectal cancer.
But Rachel Riechelmann explains that the same change seen in rectal cancer in American patients, for example, can appear in the endometrium, and so the results would be similar.
“All the immunotherapies we have in Brazil work for this rare molecular disorder, which is present in cancer of the rectum but can be between 1% and 3% of all solid tumors,” he explained.
In the United States, the drug was approved in August 2021. There, it can be used against any advanced solid tumor that continues even after the initial treatment and has no other alternative treatment. This general acceptance came four months after an initial permit, which also allowed the use of a type of endometrial cancer.
- HPV vaccine reduces cervical cancer rates by up to 87%, according to research
Here, although the drug is allowed to be used in rectal cancer, there are difficulties access, explains Rachel Riechelmann of ACCamargo. Because of this the majority of cancer immunotherapies, even those already used in Brazil, are not available SUS – The first of these was approved only in 2020 and for melanoma, a type of skin cancer. In the case of vascular cancer, treatment is still common in the public system (chemo, radio, and surgery).
“Oh [tratamento] In Brazil we have R $ 50 thousand a month, roughly. It has no price. YES [um resultado] amazing but [só] whoever has the agreement will have access. Unfortunately, 80% of the SUS population will not have access, which is absurd. It’s very sad, “said the oncologist.
In a statement, GSK informed him g1 this is not yet the final price of dostarlimab in Brazil, but “can be purchased by public and private clinics and hospitals.”