A small but significant new study is blowing experts away after it found that a particular cancer drug overwhelmingly helped shrink or eradicate tumors in patients whose cancer had resisted every other form of treatment.
The study, which was published in the journal Science, followed 86 patients who had advanced cancer of the pancreas, prostate, uterus, or bone. The patients were given pembrolizumab, which also goes by the brand name Keytruda, and the results were very promising. Sixty-six patients had tumors that shrank significantly and stabilized; among them were 18 patients whose tumors disappeared and haven’t returned.
The patients all carried genetic mutations that kept their cells from fixing damaged DNA. Pembrolizumab is known as a PD-1 blocker, an emerging type of immunotherapy drug that helps the immune system find cancer cells and attack tumors.
The study was small, and there was no control group (i.e., a group that didn’t receive pembrolizumab that scientists …
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