Cancer research
Cancer research iStock

A groundbreaking small cancer study was the first of its kind after every patient was found to be in remission from their illness.

The study, published on Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine, described the trial of 18 rectal cancer patients who were administered the drug Dostarlimab at three week intervals for six months. All participants were found to be cancer free, including the first participants who began the trial two years ago.

“I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,” Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr., one of the paper’s authors, told the New York Times.

“We initiated a prospective phase 2 study in which single-agent dostarlimab, an anti–PD-1 monoclonal antibody, was administered every 3 weeks for 6 months in patients with mismatch repair–deficient stage II or III rectal adenocarcinoma,” said the paper. “This treatment was to be followed by standard chemoradiotherapy and surgery.”

The participants who took the drug, which allows the immune system to identify and destroy cancer cells, did not have to have additional cancer treatments.

The paper said that the participants n the trial “had a clinical complete response, with no evidence of tumor on magnetic resonance imaging.”

“At the time of this report, no patients had received chemoradiotherapy or undergone surgery, and no cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during follow-up (range, 6 to 25 months). No adverse events of grade 3 or higher have been reported.”