“For patients, like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who develop aggressive brain cancer, the first-line treatment is almost always radiation and chemotherapy. But if the glioblastoma recurs, and it almost always does, what then?
“The answer could be one of the many experimental treatments being tested in clinical trials across the country. Depending on how you count them, there are dozens or hundreds of trials, many of which are focused on immunotherapy, a new approach designed to spur the immune system to attack cancer.”
“The announcement that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has glioblastoma brought to mind the parallels with his longtime colleague and friend, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who also developed a malignant glioma while major healthcare legislation was being considered.
“But treatment options for Kennedy were more limited than they are today. New drugs and devices, and especially new diagnostics and surgical procedures, have become available in the years since Kennedy was diagnosed in May 2008. He survived about 15 months after undergoing surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments.”
“The type of brain cancer John McCain was diagnosed with July 14, glioblastoma, is among the most difficult cancers to beat. The reasons it’s so hard to treat, as I discussed previously, include its location, its genetic diversity within and across patients, and its aggressiveness. Glioblastoma (GBM) is also among the most devastating cancers in its effects since it attacks the brain, the control center for the body’s functions and the essence of an individual’s personality. Even people who survive rarely remain the same person after their treatment.”
“Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are conducting the first clinical trials to evaluate the potential of a pinworm medication for the treatment of children and adults with newly diagnosed glioblastoma.
“Mebendazole has been used for more than 40 years to treat parasitic infections.
“Although the medication requires further testing in patients with cancer, results of a phase 1 trial have shown the medication is safe for and tolerated by adults with glioblastoma. An additional phase 1 trial is underway to assess the agent in children.”
“A treatment regimen that included the inexpensive anti-malaria drug chloroquine dramatically improved survival and quality of life for three patients with glioblastoma, according to researchers from University of Colorado Cancer Center.
“Two of the patients maintained response to treatment for more than 2 years.
” ‘We were excited that the three patients who tried the combination all had some clinical benefit,’ Jean Mulcahy Levy, MD, investigator at University of Colorado Cancer Center and pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, told HemOnc Today. ‘This supports examining this combination in a broader clinical trial and assessing its efficacy in a larger patient population.’ ”
“Using a novel approach called tumor-treating fields—which involves the delivery of low-intensity electric fields to the brain by a patient-operated device—along with standard-of-care temozolomide therapy improved overall survival and progression-free survival vs temozolomide alone in patients with glioblastoma, according to the final results of a phase III trial presented at the 2017 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting. Patients treated with tumor-treating fields plus temozolomide had a 37% reduced risk of death compared with those randomized to receive temozolomide alone.”
Stephen Western is a dedicated advocate for people dealing with brain cancer. He started this work in February 2013, when his friend was diagnosed with a type of brain tumor known as an astrocytoma. In order to help her, he began to learn all he could about the science of astrocytoma treatment.
Stephen soon realized that many more patients might benefit from his growing knowledge, so he created the website Astrocytoma Options to share this information and update it as new research emerges. He also helps run another site that focuses on the multi-drug “cocktails” often used in brain tumor treatment.
Although Stephen has no formal scientific training, he is able to help patients better understand their treatment options and stay up-to-date on the latest treatment research. To learn more about his work, I interviewed him via email:Continue reading…
“Glioblastoma is the most common brain tumor in humans and also one of the most difficult cancers to treat; patients with this type of cancer only survive about one year from time of diagnosis. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Cancer Center, and the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor, Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Methodist are investigating a new treatment option using modified T cells with anti-tumor properties with the goal of improving outcomes for patients with glioblastoma.
Their research focuses on engineered T cells that target the protein HER 2 expressed in low levels in glioblastoma cells. Results of a Phase 1 study published in the current issue of JAMA Oncology established the safety of these HER 2-specific, chimeric antigen receptor modified T cells (CAR T cells) when infused in to patients in increasing doses and, importantly, results also showed a clinical benefit to patients.”