Brazilian soccer legend Pelé has died of colorectal cancer. Here are cutting-edge clinical trials to find new treatments for this disease.

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Pelé died of colon cancer, one of the most common types.Clive Mason/Getty

  • Brazilian football legend Pelé died on Thursday of colorectal cancer at the age of 82.

  • Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, affecting nearly 2 million people each year.

  • Here is a US clinical trial exploring new treatment options for this disease.

Brazilian football legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, died on Thursday of colorectal cancer at the age of 82. He is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time – he was capped by Brazil for three World Cup victories, he was one of the all-time top scorers and helped popularize the sport in the US.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer. In 2020, there were over 1.9 million cases and 930,000 deaths worldwide. It is expected to become more common by 2040, with a projected increase to 3.2 million cases and 1.6 million deaths annually, highlighting the need for good treatment options.

Pelé is not the only celebrity to have died of colon cancer in recent years – Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died from the disease in 2020 at the age of 43.

According to the list compiled by the National Cancer Institute, there are four phase 3 clinical trials in the United States testing the effectiveness of new treatment options. Here are the state-of-the-art phase 3 colon cancer trials, ordered by how recently they started.

One study is testing a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy

One study looks at the effects of chemotherapy and a monoclonal antibody called atezolizumab in treating a certain type of colon cancer caused by the inability of DNA to repair itself. Atezolizumab, sold under the brand name Tecentriq, is made by Roche’s Genentech and is already used to treat several other cancers, including lung, liver and skin cancer.

The study aims to see if combining this immunotherapy, which helps the immune system to attack cancer cells, and chemotherapy will produce better results than chemotherapy alone. It started in September 2017 and is expected to end in April 2024.

Another study is investigating how vitamin D3 may help treat cancer

The Solaris study compares what happens when patients are treated with chemotherapy and a monoclonal antibody to what happens when vitamin D3 is added to this treatment option.

Vitamin D3 helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for healthy bones. Scientists believe it may also affect the immune system and help treat and prevent certain types of cancer.

The study began in September 2019 and is expected to end in July 2024.

The trial looks at 4 treatments to see which is best

The third study looks at the impact of different treatment options compared to ‘active surveillance’ or watchful observation but no treatment in patients who have been treated for colon cancer but are at risk of recurrence.

If a tumor has not been completely killed, it may continue to spread its DNA throughout the body, and patients who test positive for that tumor’s DNA may be at greater risk of the tumor returning. The four treatment groups are chemotherapy, active surveillance, immunotherapy, and drugs that block cell growth.

The process began in January 2020 and is expected to end in February.

A new drug is being tested in the latest clinical trial

The latest study to be launched involves a brand new drug called XL092, which blocks tumor growth as well as other important tumor functions when used in combination with atezolizumab. XL092 is being developed by Exelixis, a Bay Area biotech company that develops cancer drugs.

The study will compare this option with regorafenib alone, which is already used to treat colon cancer. The process began in September and is expected to end in February 2026.

Read the original article in Business Insider

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