Sunday, December 11, 2016

First viral treatment for brain cancer

Beth Rogers is flanked by her daughter
Amanda Keith and J.D. Day, M.D., who
performed her surgery.
CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 11, 2016 – It has been two months since an Hazen, Arkansas woman became the first person in the US to undergo a new viral treatment for glioblastoma, a particularly deadly form of brain cancer, and so far, it is so good.

“That is so neat,”  Beth Rogers said in a press release of being treated so close to home. “I’m just hopeful through this trial that I’m going to help them find better treatment for glioblastoma because we’ve got to do something. And I’m proud that it’s being done in Arkansas at UAMS.”

The grandmother of five is the first person the US to be treated as part of a clinical trial that includes injection of a virus into her brain tumor in combination with immunotherapy. Led by J.D. Day, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery in the UAMS College of Medicine, performed the surgery and described the treatment as a combination of therapies that he hopes will destroy Rogers’ cancer. 

During the surgery, Day injected Rogers’ tumor with an adenovirus, which is associated with the common cold. The procedure involved a new specially designed cannula that put the virus right where Day wanted it. Once in place, the virus began multiplying, attacking cancer cells but not affecting healthy cells. The virus replicates on its own, continuing the attack as long as cancer cells are present, so no further injections will be needed. 

After surgery, Rogers has been taking infusions every three weeks of pembrolizumab – under the Keytruda brand name – an immunotherapy that weakens cancer cells and improves immune response to help her body to fight off the tumor. She continues to go to physical and occupational therapy to help with the physical effects caused by the tumor. The combination of treatments has proven successful with other types of cancer, but this is the first time it has been tried with a brain tumor.

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