Cancer research is being conducted in Sioux Falls with some positive results breaking through.

Vermillion native Dr. Steven Powell has an acute interest in developing new cancer treatments for Sanford Health. He cites one example of where pushing the boundaries paid dividends.

“We were at that point where we had nothing left to offer. After fighting for another option for these patients, we conducted the Keynote 55 trial. We gave patients Pembrolizumab and we found some pretty profound results. Some patients are still alive today that were on that trial and we closed it almost two years ago.”

The concept is technically called immunotherapy and Powell says this method of treatment is not exactly modern.

“This idea has been around for a hundred years. Every therapy we use including chemotherapy and radiation is dependent on your immune system to clear the cancer. Now we have ways to manipulate your immune system to tell it to attack the cancer and that can make it much more effective and the drug commonly known as Keytruda is one drug that does that.”

Patients who were part of the trial were specifically suffering from head and neck cancer.

Sanford Health’s Research Institute is located in northeast Sioux Falls and has been in operation since 2009.

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