Williams Cancer Institute


Some studies have shown that immunotherapy can cure locally advanced cancers in a period of between 1 and 6 months in the best cases. These cancers are characterized by having tumors that generally remain limited to the original site but can also spread to nearby lymph nodes. The patients who participated in the study had specific genetic changes that made them good candidates for immunotherapy. These genetic changes are called high microsatellite instability (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR).

In the study, half of the population received the immunotherapy drugs pembrolizumab and Keytruda for a period of 6 months. After immunotherapy treatment, these patients underwent surgery to remove any remaining tumor tissue. In half of these patients, no trace of the tumor that previously existed was found, which is known as a complete pathological response. The other patients received treatment with pembrolizumab alone for a period of 1 year, and only 1 out of 18 patients had an improvement in tumor size. Overall, immunotherapy shows an improvement compared to conventional treatments. For some people with these cancers in earlier stages, the complete treatment could be just a short course of immunotherapy.

The one key is that these patients have damaged or mutated DNA repair genes. This is relatively rare, but it gives a key insight that can be applied to all patients. Medications can be used to block the DNA repair, making even typical patients responsive to immunotherapy.

Currently, immunotherapy is a standard treatment used by oncologists to treat an increasing number of cancer types. The role of immunotherapy in treatment has evolved to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and eradicate cancer from their lives.

Reference: Hui Sui, L. Z. (16 de July de 2020). YYFZBJS ameliorates colorectal cancer progression in ApcMin/+ mice by remodeling gut microbiota and inhibiting regulatory T-cell generation. Cellular Communication and Signaling, 18(1). doi:10.1186/s12964-020-00596-9

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