Immunotherapy Attacks Brain Cancer

SUMMIT, N.J. (KFSN) -- 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.
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