A patient, whose cancer spread from his lungs to his lymph nodes has been left with no trace of the disease after taking part in a first in world drug trial at The Christie in Manchester.
Bob Berry, 60 from Hazel Grove, Stockport started the first in human and first in class drug trial when he was referred to the clinical trials unit at the specialist cancer centre 12 months ago, because he wasn’t responding to standard treatment.
Bob is one of the first patients to take part in this study in the UK, which is only available at six centres worldwide. It is unique because it is the first time this brand new drug is being tested in humans. This study combines the drug with an immunotherapy treatment with the intention to make it more effective. Immunotherapy treatments harness and enhance the innate powers of the immune system to fight cancer.
Bob said: “I first found out I had cancer three years ago when I had a scan because I had a pain in my shoulder. My GP said the scan showed a shadow on my lungs so I was referred to hospital, where I found out it was a cancerous tumour that needed to be removed.”
Bob had surgery to get rid of the tumour only to find out from tests a few months later, that the cancer was growing and had spread to his lymph nodes. He was then referred to The Christie where he was initially treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy but was transferred to the clinical trials unit after gaining little benefit from conventional treatment.
Bob’s consultant, Dr Matthew Krebs, said: “Bob has had a phenomenal response to taking part in this clinical trial. His most recent scans show that he’s had a complete response with no apparent trace of tumour in his body. We will need to monitor Bob closely with regular scans to assess how durable this response will be. As it is a combined study with a brand new drug, we still have a lot of further research to do before we can establish how these findings can help more patients like Bob in the future as cancer is a complex disease and not every patient responds as well as this.”
Bob concluded: “Three years ago, I was given 12 – 18 months to live but I have already surpassed that and I feel well. At the end of the day, this clinical trial at The Christie has extended my life and I couldn’t be more grateful. Anyone who is offered a clinical trial should seriously consider it.”
Around 600 clinical trials may be taking place at any one time in The Christie’s National Institute for Health Research clinical research facility, a large, high quality, dedicated clinical research environment where patients can participate in complex and early phase clinical trials.
The Christie is part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre working with The University of Manchester and Cancer Research UK to develop new anti-cancer treatments and run trials that are much more focused on individual patient characteristics.
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust has been ranked ‘Outstanding’ by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission which referred to it as ‘exceptional’ and ‘a leader in its field’. It commended the Trust not only for its effectiveness and care, but highlighted its work in shaping the future of cancer care and noted the reach and influence of its clinical research projects.