SUMMIT, N.J. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — As many as 78,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. If those tumors return after surgery, immunotherapy may be an option. It’s a treatment that revs up the body’s immune response to fight the cancer.
It’s in its early stages, Yaron Moshel, M.D., a co-director of Gerald J Glasser Brain Tumor Center at Overlook Medical Center and a neurosurgeon at New Jersey’s Atlantic Neurosurgical specialists, is overseeing a promising drug trial, called Toca 5, trying to prolong the lives of brain tumor patients.
“A lot of these patients, if these tumors come back, they really don’t have a lot of good treatment options,” Dr. Moshel told Ivanhoe. (Read Full Interview)
Dr. Moshel said with standard treatment like chemotherapy, recurring brain tumor patients normally live seven to nine months. That time has nearly doubled for Phase I trial participants injected with a gene for an enzyme known as CD.
Dr. Moshel detailed, “It’s a unique study in that we’re actually injecting a true, living virus into a patient. The idea is that virus would infect the tumor cells. And once it got into the tumor cells, it would copy a gene into the tumor cell, rendering it susceptible to a drug that otherwise would not have been effective.”
John Esmeraldino recently had a brain tumor removed by Dr. Moshel, which so far hasn’t returned.
Esmeraldino told Ivanhoe, “To know that there’s an option means everything. That’s life, that’s hope. That’s light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.”
If Toca 5 proves successful, Dr. Moshel said it could eventually be used for newly diagnosed brain tumors.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Joey Wahler, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Taso Stefanidis, Videographer.
MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS – RESEARCH SUMMARY
TOPIC: Immunotherapy Attacks Brain Cancer
REPORT: MB #4230
BACKGROUND: About six in every 1,000 people in the U.S are affected by a brain or nervous system tumor. Brain tumors are abnormal growths of cells in the brain. Even though some growths are popularly called brain tumors, not all brain tumors are cancer. Cancer is a term reserved for only malignant tumors that can grow and spread aggressively, overpowering healthy cells by taking their space, blood, and nutrients. They can also spread to other parts of the body. Most common symptoms of a brain tumor include headache, nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness. Depending on the location of the tumor, patients can develop a variety of other symptoms such as weakness on one side of the body, memory and/or speech difficulties, and visual changes. Brain tumors often recur and can come back years after the first tumor has been treated.
TREATMENTS: Treatment options for recurring brain tumors may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy. Patients who have already had a standard course of radiation therapy with their first tumor may not be able to receive another. Another option to treat the recurring brain tumor is immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. This can be done in a couple of ways. One way is by stimulating the immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells. Another way is by giving a person immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new form of immunotherapy is prolonging the lives of brain tumor patients. In a drug trial called Toca 5, participants are being injected with a gene for an enzyme known as CD that copies itself in the tumor cell, making the tumor susceptible to a drug that otherwise would not have been effective. The participants in this clinical trial had a recurrent glioblastoma or anaplastic astrocytoma, had prior surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and are between the ages 18 and 75.(Sources: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02414165)
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