In 10 seconds? A cancer-fighting drug called an immune checkpoint inhibitor (specifically, anti-PD-1) was found to successfully treat 100% of rectal cancer patients in a study of 12 patients without the need for any other cancer treatments.

Yeah, I saw this in the news. Are the results as good as they say? Well, they are certainly exciting and showcase the improved scientific understanding of which patients will respond successfully to certain cancer treatments. (More on this below) But, although the results are impressive, there are a few things to keep in mind when interpreting them. First of all, the drug used in the study, dostarlimab, is an anti-PD1 antibody that exists as a cancer treatment. And while its formulation is new (FDA approved in 2021), other very similar anti-PD-1 antibodies have been successfully used to treat cancer since 2014. So, the treatment type is not new, per se. Second, this was a small study of only 12 patients who were carefully selected for treatment based on tumor-specific genetic factors. Overall this study, exemplifies how researchers can now select patients they ‘expect’ to successfully respond to treatment.

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