Immunotherapy a potential option for fighting brain tumors

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As many as 78,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. (WLS)

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, but Dr. Yaron Moshel is overseeing a promising drug trial called Toca five 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," said Dr. Moshel.

Moshel says with standard treatment like chemotherapy, recurring brain tumor patients normally live seven to nine months. That time has nearly doubled for phase one trial participants injected with a gene for an enzyme known as CD.

"It's a unique study in that we're actually injecting a true, living virus into a patient. And 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," said Dr. Moshel.

John Esmeraldino recently had a brain tumor removed by Dr. Moshel which so far hasn't returned.

"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," Esmeraldino said.

If Toca five proves successful, Dr. Moshel says it could eventually be used for newly diagnosed brain tumors.

If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at www.ivanhoe.com.
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