After receiving a personalized clinical trial, Robert Glynn, suffering from bile duct cancer, is now completely cured, when he should have lived only 12 months.
While his doctors gave him only 12 months to live, Robert Glynn, a 51-year-old English welder, is now completely cured of the cancer of the bile ducts which was eating away at him, reports the Guardian. Thanks to a clinical trial based on immunotherapy, the tumors of the former patient have drastically reduced in size, allowing their removal.
It is in June 2019 that the ax falls. On the eve of his 49th birthday, Robert Glynn, originally from the suburbs of Manchester, learns that he has cancer of the bile ducts. The man had been worried about pains felt in his shoulder, preventing 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, “ducts that carry bile in the intestine, from the liver to the gallbladder where it is stored between meals”, reports the SNFGE.
When 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 big to be operated 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”, recalls in the columns of the Guardian Robert Glynn.
The British daily stresses that in the United Kingdom, less than 2% of patients with cancer of the bile ducts extending to other organs survive beyond five years.
Get rid of cancer cells yourself
But in view of the characteristics of his disease, and in particular the high number of mutations in his tumors, Robert Glynn was finally redirected to the Christie foundation, managed by the NHS. Based in Manchester, this fund manages one of the largest hospitals dedicated to the treatment of cancer in Europe.
Once supported, the welder is administered a drug treatment specifically adapted to his profile, based on immunotherapy. Such a method is already approved for cancers of the lung, kidney and esophagus, but remains at the clinical trial stage for cancers of the bile ducts.
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 against their disease. In the case of cancer, it does not attack the tumor directly, but stimulates the immune cells involved in its recognition. and its destruction”, underlines Inserm.
Immunotherapy aims in particular to “wake up” the immune system, while tumors can have the action of putting to sleep T lymphocytes, killer cells essential in the immune response against viruses and cancers.
At Robert Glynn, this clinical trial proved to be particularly effective. Immunotherapy, received as an infusion and coupled with traditional chemotherapy, has drastically reduced the size of his tumours. The one on his liver went from 12 to 2.6cm, and the one on his adrenal glands from 7 to 4.1cm. Paving the way for their 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 could not believe it”, reports the English patient. Only dead tissue was found by the doctors.
“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,” Robert said. Glynn.
Other patients currently being treated
Since then, the welder has not needed any additional treatment, and his CT scan three months after the operation indicates that he is completely cured. Since then, he made the decision to adopt a healthy diet, and lost 31kg. Bile duct cancers may be linked to obesity. “It was the kick in the ass I needed to change my life,” he says.
The treatment that Robert received, whose name cannot yet be revealed because it is still in the clinical trial stage, is currently being administered to other patients with the same type of aggressive cancer that almost 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 underscores the importance of personalized medicine.” The specialist does not want to be pessimistic, however, and calls for expanding the number of patients treated with the method.
“This could lead to a change in the way we treat patients like Robert in the future,” hopes Juan Valle.
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