Your body’s immune system, which protects you from germs, viruses, and other foreign substances, can be a powerful weapon in the fight against colorectal cancer, even advanced colorectal cancer.
Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses the immune system to fight cancer, either by:
- Making your immune system stronger, or
- Attacking and destroying cancer cells.
So far, researchers have identified four types of immunotherapy drugs and are testing them in clinical trials with patients who have advanced colorectal cancer. One category of immunotherapy drugs being tested is called monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are man-made versions of immune system proteins that attack a specific part of cancer cells. This helps the immune system destroy the cancer cells.
Research Trials using Immunotherapy in the fight against advanced colorectal cancer
Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers is currently participating in a multi-site clinical trial of one of these drugs call Xilonex. Early studies showed that Xilonix helped extend life 39% in patients with certain types of advanced colorectal cancer. These patients also felt healthier and happier.
Patients in the initial study had either:
- An inherited type of colorectal cancer called Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer), or
- A type of genetic change called high levels of microsatellite instability.
Based on the study results, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the development of new drugs to make sure they’re safe and effective, gave Xilonix a Fast Track designation. This means that after the clinical trials are finished, patients will be able to get Xilonix sooner.
The new study of Xilonix is only available at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers and 29 other centers nationwide. It is testing how well the drug works in slowing tumor growth and lessening symptoms of muscle loss, fatigue, appetite loss, and pain. It is for patients whose cancer has spread beyond the colon and/or rectum to other parts of the body (metastatic colorectal cancer).
Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers is Colorado’s only nationally recognized, community-based research program offering clinical trials for all major cancer types. Our goal is to bring the world’s most advanced treatments to patients in the communities where they live. Through our research, we have helped advance nearly one-third of all new cancer therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Read more about immunotherapy for colorectal cancer patients or the Xilonix study.