Ahead of their presentations at the European Cancer Congress in Vienna, the New England of Journal of Medicine (NETB) has published two studies on kidney cancer which show that a new drug for fighting kidney cancer has proven effective for extending life.
The drug, Nivolumab, is the first of its kind to demonstrate the ability to extend life of patients with advanced kidney cancer, a Forbes report said. Researchers believe the drug will allow patients to live more “normal” lives.
Cabozantinib, another drug in the studies, showed the ability to slow the growth rate of kidney tumors.
Both drugs were tested against Everolimus, an oral drug used to treat kidney cancer.
According to the results given in the NETB, Nivolumab extended subjects’ lives an average of 5.4 months longer than everolimus.
As for Cabozantinib, the study showed that the drug was able to double the number of months (7.4 from 3.8) kidney cancer patients experience progression-free survival.
One expert tempered the good news by saying that, even though the results of the studies were “unequivocal”, cost may prove a prohibitive factor for patients interested in the two drugs.
The benefit of each drug unequivocal and also points to limitations of these new meds and concern about cost.
The U.K.-based newspaper Daily Mail also reported the results of the NEJM studies, providing readers with specific success stories of people who received the Nivolumab treatment.
The results of the treatments were so dramatic, in fact, that tumors in other parts of the body had “completely vanished” and patients were able to resume daily activities that hadn’t been able to do since they initially fell ill.
Tumours that had spread to their lungs and liver have completely vanished, and they only need to go to hospital every two weeks for top-up injections of the treatment.
The drug’s effectiveness is attributed to its mechanics. Scientists have long known that cancer cells thrive in the human body because our immune systems don’t recognize them as dangerous. Nivolumab trains the body to recognize that cancer cells are bad, and the body responds by attacking them.
One oncologist was quoted as saying that the Nivolumab result “marks the first time that an immunotheraphy treatment of this type has demonstrated a significant improvement in kidney cancer survival.”