A man who had been given a prognosis of less than a year to live is now cancer-free due to a new drug trial.
Robert Glynn, 51, believes he "wouldn't be here today" if not for the trial in which he participated, and experts are hopeful that it could be used to treat other patients with the same type of cancer.
In August 2020, Glynn received the devastating diagnosis of intrahepatic bile duct cancer, a rare form of cancer with limited treatment options. Glynn, from Worsley in Greater Manchester, was informed that his cancer was at an advanced stage and had spread to his adrenal gland.
Glynn was referred to the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, where he was offered the chance to participate in a clinical trial of immunotherapy. He was given an immunotherapy drug, which is already approved for use in other cancers such as lung and kidney cancer, to treat his cancer.
The drug, which has not been named due to its experimental nature in treating this type of cancer, is administered through a drip and helps a person's own immune system fight cancer.
Incredibly, after receiving the treatment, Glynn saw his tumors shrink, with one in his liver going from 12 cm to 2.6 cm. This allowed him to undergo surgery to remove the tumors.
Upon removal, surgeons found only dead tissue, indicating that the treatment had killed all the cancer cells.
Glynn stated: "I wouldn't be here today without the trial. When I was given the option to take part in research, I jumped at the chance. You do anything you can to extend your life."
"I feel very lucky as I had the cancer for two years and had no idea. So getting the all-clear was overwhelming."
"In an odd kind of way, having the diagnosis has turned my life around. With my partner, Simone, we get out in nature and walk loads. When something like this happens you realize life is for living."
Since his surgery, Glynn has not required any additional treatment and his scans every three months show that he is cancer-free. Further studies are being conducted with more patients in the hope of improving the treatment for biliary tract cancer.
The clinical trial was led by Professor Juan Valle, a consultant oncologist at the Christie and a renowned expert in biliary tract cancer.
"Robert has done very well on this combination due to his tumor having a high mutation burden, or a high number of genetic mutations," the Professor said.
"Most patients with this diagnosis do not have as many mutations in their cancer cells so the treatment won't be as effective, but it does highlight the importance of personalized medicine."
"The results of this research and another larger study are keenly anticipated by colleagues worldwide as it could lead to a change in how we treat patients like Robert in the future."