Glioblastoma: First Patient to Remove Cloak


CLEVELAND, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—This year alone, 13,000 Americans will be told they have glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer. Most are given less than six months to live. But now a new combo-treatment is giving GBM patients a chance at living longer.

“My hand, my finger, two fingers, had gotten numb. I thought it was carpal tunnel,” Fran Noonan recalled.

If only it was something so simple … Fran had glioblastoma. She had surgery, followed by chemo and radiation. Seventeen months later—the tumor came back. Lauren found this Facebook group, and on it, news of a new clinical trial.

“Tumors have sort of the ability to create this cloak of invisibility, if you will, by hiding themselves from the immune system,” illustrated  Andrew E. Sloan, MD, MBA, FACS, professor & vice chairman, department of neurosurgery, Peter D. Cristal chair of neurosurgical oncology, director of the brain tumor & neuro-oncology center and center of excellence for translational neuro-oncology, and distinguished surgeon & senior staff neurosurgeon at University Hospitals-Cleveland Medical Center & Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, OH.

(Read Full Interview)

Dr. Sloan gave Fran immunotherapy, a checkpoint inhibitor called Keytruda, to help Fran’s immune system track down the cancer cells. Then, using an MRI guided laser called LITT, heated the tumor—destroying the cancer cells.

“You can not only damage the tumor, but also erode that cloak of invisibility,” explained Dr. Sloan.

That’s followed up every 21 days for two years with a transfusion of Keytruda. Nine months after the LITT  procedure, Fran is feeling and looking good!

“There’s no tumor, no cancer cells. My blood work looks great,” Fran stated.

“We want people to know that you don’t stop looking. Don’t settle for the statistics,” shared Fran’s daughter, Lauren Brown.

Fran was the first person in the world to receive Keytruda first via infusion, then the LITT, laser interstitial therapy, followed by more infusions after surgery. Prior to her treatment, patients only received immunotherapy after surgery. Keytruda is experimental in this use; the Food and Drug Administration has not approved it for this purpose.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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TOPIC:            SAVING FRAN: FIRST PATIENT TO REMOVE THE CLOAK FROM                                             GLIOBLASTOMA

REPORT:       MB #4916

BACKGROUND: Glioblastoma, or GBM, is an invasive rapid-growing brain tumor that develops from cells in the brain called glial cells and spreads throughout the brain appearing sporadically. Glioblastoma is also referred to as a grade 4 astrocytoma. Grade 4 astrocytoma, or glioblastoma, is an aggressive and devastating cancer, that can result in death in as little as 15 months after diagnosis. The long-term prognosis for glioblastoma remains poor. The current standard of care consisting of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation has been reported by researchers to not be very effective. Glioblastomas present unique treatment challenges: the brain is difficult to reach due to the blood brain barrier, they are inherently resistant to current therapies, there is currently a lot of  toxicity associated with current glioblastoma therapies, and glioblastomas spread throughout the brain into healthy tissue.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Dr. Andrew Sloan and other investigators at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center led the first in human trials, published in 2013, of a procedure with laser interstitial thermotherapy, also called LITT, a minimally invasive approach using a laser to “cook” a tumor through a tiny hole in the scalp and bone and the intra-operative MRI to fine tune the treatment rather than relying on the surgeon’s direct vision. Historically, LITT has been used for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma. However, indications have expanded to now include gliomas of different grades, brain metastasis, radiation necrosis, other types of brain tumors as well as spine metastasis. LITT is emerging as a safe, reliable, minimally invasive clinical approach, particularly for deep seated, focal malignant brain tumors and radiation necrosis.


NEW RESEARCH: Andrew E. Sloan, MD, MBA, FACS, vice chairman of the department of neurosurgery at University Hospitals-Cleveland Seidman Cancer Center says, The next thing I thought, what if we could combine this heat with an immune therapy that would allow the brain to attack the tumor that’s been partially damaged by the laser? And that is how this trial came into being. Many cancers can actually suppress the brain. The way I explain it to many of my patients is, you know, most people have read the Harry Potter books. Harry Potter is this magical figure who has a number of tools. But one of the things he has is this tool that he calls a cloak of invisibility. He puts it on and he becomes invisible. Well, tumors have sort of the ability to create this cloak of invisibility, if you will, by hiding themselves from the immune system. And so, my thought was, if you can burn the tumor and damage it enough and then use this drug called Pembrolizumab, which is what we call a checkpoint inhibitor, you can not only damage the tumor, but also erode that cloak of invisibility. And that’s sort of the theory in a layperson’s terms behind this trial. And so far, we’ve been very pleased.”

(Source: Andrew E. Sloan, MD, MBA, FACS, Vice Chairman, Dept, of Neurosurgery, University Hospitals-Cleveland Seidman Cancer Center)




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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Andrew E. Sloan, MD, MBA, FACS, vice chairman of the department of neurosurgery

Read the entire Q&A