UK: Doomed Cancer Patient Finally Saved With Immunotherapy

UK: Doomed Cancer Patient Finally Saved With Immunotherapy

After receiving a personalized clinical trial, Robert Glynn, who suffers from bile duct cancer, is now completely cured, when he should have lived for only 12 months.

Although his doctors gave him only 12 months to live, Robert Glynn, a 51-year-old English welder, is now completely cured of the bile duct cancer that was eating him away, reports the guardian. Thanks to a clinical trial based on immunotherapy, the former patient’s tumors have drastically reduced in size, which has allowed her to be removed.

It is in June 2019 when the ax falls. On the eve of his 49th birthday, Robert Glynn, originally from suburban Manchester, learns that he has bile duct cancer. The man had been worried about the pain he felt in his shoulder, which prevented him from sleeping.

As reported by the French National Society of Gastroenterology (SNFGE), it is a rare disease, which affects “around 2000 people (…) each year in France”.

2% chance of survival after five years

Clearly, the disease multiplies the cells that line the walls of the bile ducts, “tubes that carry bile in the intestine, from the liver to the gallbladder where it is stored between meals,” reports the SNFGE.

By the time Robert Glynn’s cancer is detected, the disease has already reached stage 4. It has spread to his adrenal glands and liver, and the tumors are too large to operate on.

“I asked my doctor to be honest with me, and to tell me how long I had left if I continued in this state. She told me 12 months ”, she recalls in the columns of the guardian Robert Glynn.

The British newspaper highlights that in the United Kingdom less than 2% of patients with bile duct cancer that spreads to other organs survive more than five years.

Get rid of cancer cells yourself

But given the characteristics of his disease, and in particular the high number of mutations in his tumors, Robert Glynn was ultimately redirected to the NHS-run Christie Foundation. Based in Manchester, this fund manages one of the largest hospitals dedicated to cancer treatment in Europe.

Once assisted, the welder is administered a pharmacological treatment specifically adapted to his profile, based on immunotherapy. The method is already approved for lung, kidney, and esophageal cancers, but remains in the clinical trial stage for bile duct cancers.

As Inserm reports, cancer immunotherapy is based on a different logic than more traditional chemotherapy. Instead of attacking cancer cells directly, the treatment will teach the body to get rid of them on its own.

“Immunotherapy is a therapeutic approach that acts on a patient’s immune system to fight their disease. In the case of cancer, it does not attack the tumor directly, but rather stimulates the immune cells involved in its recognition and destruction”, stresses Inserm. .

Immunotherapy aims, in particular, to “wake up” the immune system, while tumors may have the effect of numbing T-lymphocytes, killer cells essential in the immune response against viruses and cancers.

A miracle”

In Robert Glynn, this clinical trial proved to be particularly effective. Immunotherapy, received as an infusion and combined with traditional chemotherapy, has drastically reduced the size of his tumors. That of his liver went from 12 to 2.6 cm, and that of his adrenal glands from 7 to 4.1 cm. Paving the way for its surgical removal.

During the operation, which took place last April, the surgeons “did not find any active cancer cells. They tested all the tumors twice because they couldn’t believe it,” says the English patient. The doctors found only dead tissue.

“One of the nurses said it was a miracle. I don’t like that word, I’m just an ordinary guy, but it’s definitely remarkable. Without the progress, I won’t be here,” said Robert Glynn.

Other patients currently on treatment

Since then, the welder has not needed any further treatment, and his CT scan three months after the operation indicates that he is fully healed. Since then, he has made the decision to adopt a healthy diet and has lost 31 kg. Bile duct cancers may be related to obesity. “It was the kick in the ass I needed to turn my life around,” he says.

The treatment Robert received, whose name cannot yet be revealed because it is still in clinical trials, is currently being given to other patients with the same aggressive type of cancer that nearly took the welder’s life.

But as Juan Valle, an oncologist at the Manchester hospital where the clinical trial took place, pointed out, “Most patients with this diagnosis don’t have as many mutations in their cancer cells, so the treatment won’t be as effective, but it underlines the importance of personalized medicine”. However, the specialist does not want to be pessimistic and calls for expanding the number of patients treated with the method.

“This could mean a change in the way of treating patients like Robert in the future,” Juan Valle hopes.

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