An immunotherapy clinical trial that Swim Across America provided grant funding has reached another milestone.
The Dr. Luis Diaz Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering began receiving grants from Swim Across America in 2017. SAA grant funding allowed Dr. Diaz and his colleague, Dr. Andrea Cercek, to meet patients and conduct immunotherapy research. With SAA grant support, the lab opened a clinical trial and recruited 14 patients with advanced rectal cancer. The patients qualified through genetic testing and were treated with a single dose of immunotherapy. The patients didn’t require surgery, chemo, or radiation–which was remarkable as traditional treatments often have a negative emotional, physical, and financial effect on the quality of life for patients and their families.
Dr. Luis Diaz and Dr. Andrea Cercek
All 14 patients responded with no evidence of disease. This is believed to be the first time a clinical trial has shown a 100% response rate. Read the full story here.
Recently, the FDA Advisory Committee supported expanding the clinical trial to more patients based on the data from the trial.
The Diaz/Cercek lab has focused on rectal cancer where standard treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. While these treatments might save a patient, they have significant quality-of-life effects and often present the need for ongoing care.
This trial is genetically dependent and focused on advanced rectal cancer. Dr. Diaz and Dr. Cercek envision the immunotherapy being offered to patients with other cancer types who meet the genetic profile. Proceeds from the Long Island Sound and Nassau/Suffolk – Sound to Cove charity swims continue to help fund the ongoing research and clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Swim Across America has a proven track record of identifying and funding early-stage ideas of promise. Swim Across America grants have played a major role in clinically developing FDA-approved immunotherapy treatments ipilimumab (YERVOY), nivolumab (OPDIVO), pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA), and atezolizumab (TECENTRIQ).