Study Shows Ongoing Benefits Once Immunotherapy Stops

January 2, 2024 10:20:17

A study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology has found that some patients continue to benefit from immunotherapy once the treatment stops. Researchers found that some metastatic colorectal cancer patients are reluctant to stop the treatment as per their doctors’ recommendations, suggesting that discontinuing the treatment doesn’t always stop its benefits.

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center associate professor and senior study author Dr. Van Morris and his research team wanted to determine if the health benefits of immunotherapy continued once the treatment was discontinued or due to side effects. The researchers recruited 64 colorectal cancer patients with tumors characterized by deficient DNA mismatch repair (dMMR) or high microsatellite instability (MSI-H) who had gone through immunotherapy for a median of 17.6 months.

They found that the patients had a progression-free survival rate of 98% a year after ceasing immunotherapy, 91% after two years, and 84% three years after treatment, indicating that colorectal cancer patients continued to benefit from immunotherapy years after they discontinued the treatment. According to Morris, patients were understandably afraid of getting off a treatment that was effective and had little side effects. Patients with a stage 4 colorectal cancer diagnosis were especially worried about their cancer coming back once they ceased treatment, Morris said.

He discovered that all 64 patients involved in the study experienced a notable benefit from immunotherapy by the time the treatment stopped. Specificallly, 48 patients halted immunotherapy treatment due to “prolonged benefit” while 16 patients discontinued the treatment due to side effects. Morris also noted that the data could provide valuable information for oncologists to use while leading treatment discussions with patients with MSI-H/dMMR colorectal cancer by providing them with numbers on how they would progress once they stopped the treatment. He said that patients will be much more accepting of the treatment if their physician tells them that their cancer has an 88% chance of not returning after they cease treatment.

The data could also help guide physicians who have patients with high-risk tumors that may require extended immunotherapy treatment. Morris explained that oncologists are often reluctant to halt treatment for patients who have tumors with BRAF mutations. However, he noted that the study did not stop any relationship between tumor mutation status and the chances of cancer recurring.

The findings were published in the AACR journal “Cancer Research Communications.”

With research showing that the benefits of immunotherapy don’t stop once the treatment sessions come to an end, patients could reap more benefits from the numerous immunotherapies that are being developed by companies such as Renovaro BioSciences Inc. (NASDAQ: RENB).

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Renovaro BioSciences Inc. (NASDAQ: RENB) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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