A man with advanced skin cancer, who had been given just months to live, appears to have been cured by an experimental new drug ‘Pembrolizumab’.
Warwick Steele, a 64 year old television engineer, underwent six months of treatment, receiving infusions of pembrolizumab directly into his blood stream.
Three months into the treatment, Mr. Steele’s tumours had shrunk dramatically and have showed no signs of returning.
In fact, since finishing the trial, his tumours have shrunk even further.
Pembrolizumab enables the immune system to fight tumours by disabling the cancer’s ability to go undetected.
411 patients took part in the trial, all of which had advanced melanoma and a critical prognosis.
A year after treatment started, 70 per cent of the patients were still alive, a result that astonished doctors.
One year survival rates for patients with advanced melanoma are currently 10 per cent for men and 35 per cent for women.
80 per cent of patients taking part in the trial responded to the drug whilst 72 per cent experienced tumour shrinkage.
Marck Sharp and Dohme, the pharmaceutical company in charge of manufacturing the drug, is expected to apply for a licence to begin marketing the drug in the next coming months.
Gillian Nuttall, founder of the charity Melanoma UK, said: "The pembrolizumab results are really exciting and could represent a turning point for patients affected by advanced melanoma, giving them a greater chance of survival."