A patient with lung cancer who was given 12-18 months to live has no trace of the disease left after taking part in a drug trial at The Christie in Manchester, UK.
The patient, Bob Berry, was referred to the clinic after not responding to his standard treatment. His cancer spread from his lungs to his lymph nodes. Bob is one of the first patients in the UK to receive this treatment and The Christie is one of only six places in the World offering it. The treatment combines a drug with immunotherapy treatment in order to help make the drug more effective.
“As of his last scan, we’re not able to detect any lung cancer at all,” said Prof Hughes, chair in experimental cancer medicine at The Christie.
“The first drug damages the very essence of cancer’s life – its DNA – and as the cancer is dying we hit it with a second drug that takes the ‘invisibility cloak’ away from cancer so that the immune system can recognize it,” he added.
It is the first time this new drug has been tested in humans. Only 12 people have taken part in the trial globally.
“Every cancer drug begins with a ‘Bob’ story,” said Prof Hughes, “and then a larger trial is done”. It typically takes “three to seven years” to bring successful “first in human” trials into widespread use, he added.
Dr Matthew Krebs, Bob’s consultant, stated that he still needs to undergo close monitoring to establish how successful the treatment may be in the long term and that much research still needs to be done as this treatment may not be as successful in different patients.
Bob states “three years ago, I was given 12-18 months to live but I have already surpassed that and I feel well. At the end of the day, this clinical trial at The Christie has extended my life and I couldn’t be more grateful. Anyone who is offered a clinical trial should seriously consider it.”
The other two patients in the hospital’s trial have responded to the treatment, but not to the degree Bob has.
The Christie is part of the UK National Health Service and is leading experts in cancer care, research, and education. It has been ranked as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.