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What We’re Reading: Rectal Cancer Drug Results Released; Military HIV Policies Updated; Executive Order on Abortion Rights


An experimental cancer drug made 100% of patients’ rectal tumors disappear in a small study; US military members with HIV with an undetectable viral load and no symptoms will no longer face restrictions in deployment or commission; President Biden may sign an executive order on abortion rights depending on the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Experimental Rectal Cancer Drug Shows 100% Efficacy

In a trial of 18 patients with rectal cancer published in The New England Journal of Medicine, a 6-month course of the experimental drug dostarlimab resulted in tumor disappearance in the 12 patients who completed treatment. As reported by NPR, experts in the field say this experimental immune checkpoint inhibitor is showing results never seen before in other cancer treatments and that dostarlimab may change the future of cancer research. The trial was conducted by doctors at New York's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who also saw no adverse events among the patients.

HIV Status No Longer a Discriminatory Factor in Military

An updated Pentagon guidance has reversed Department of Defense policies put in place in the 1980s, The Hill reported. Based on this updated policy, service members living with HIV who are asymptomatic and have a clinically confirmed undetectable viral load will no longer face restrictions in their deployment or ability to commission. However, individuals who have HIV before joining still cannot enlist in the military, with an exception for those who do not receive a diagnosis until they are enrolled in a military or a commissioning program, who will be referred to the appropriate next steps on a case-by-case basis.

Executive Order on Abortion Rights Could Be Forthcoming

President Joe Biden has announced he may sign an executive order on abortion rights if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade this month, The Hill reported. Although Biden did not fully expand on what the order would include, the administration does have the power to use Medicaid funding to pay for travel and time off from work for people who have to travel out of state for an abortion, as well as expand guidance on abortion pill use. Details of the executive order will likely not be fully released until after the ruling.

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