Glioblastoma is, in brief, a brain cancer has long been considered “untreatable” by traditional cancer treatment standards. The deadly condition is characterized by tumors in the brain and along the spinal cord and does not respond to conventional cancer drugs. Indeed, it is one of the deadliest forms of cancer; right up their with adenocarcinoma (lung cancer).
Ok, so just about all form of cancer are bad. The survival rate is still slim for many forms and even with treatment, the quality of life can be greatly reduced. This is why, however, much research has gone into not only treating but curing cancer and the lates studies show that immune therapy seems to be quite effective. Immune therapy is a rapidly expanding—and still relatively new—area of medical development in which doctors use the body’s own defense system to fight diseases like cancer.
And recently, researchers at City of Hope, in Duarte, CA, were able to wipe out glioblastoma tumors in one patient; at least, temporarily
Sure. Ok. Yes. This is only one patient. And the effect was, at best, temporary (the tumors came back over a period of the next 8 months). But the experimental therapy showed that while cancer may evade the body’s natural immune defenses, using a person’s own T-cells can have a very positive effect. In this case, for example, the patient, 50-year-old Richard Grady was originally told he had only a few weeks to live but the treatment gave him another 15 months (and he is still alive).
But, again, this is an isolated case. Scientists are going to need a lot more research and data to determine this a successful form of cancer treatment. However, the results of this isolated case show great promise in the cancer world, particularly in restoring a few more months—or even years—to patients who would have otherwise only been given a few weeks to live.
And this is a landmark case because it has been generally believed that T-cell therapy does not work on solid tumors. But City of Hope cancer immunologist Christine E. Brown notes, “I think there has been a lot of skepticism about using T-cells in solid tumors [so] Even one case is important for the field.”
Similarly, Baylor College of Medicine pediatric oncologist Stephan Gottschalk remarks, “The overall sentiment is that T-cells don’t work for solid tumors. This is one of the fisrt examples where a patient with disseminated glioblastoma responds. I think it’s quite dramatic.”