“How many fingers? Three. How many? Two.”
Eight years ago, Stephanie Hopper was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.Surgeons removed the tumor but it returned two years later. The survival rate for glioblastoma is low, at best a year and a half after diagnosis. Hopper entered a study that uses a genetically modified polio virus developed at Duke Cancer Institute. The modified virus doesn’t cause paralysis but it does shrink the tumor. A clinical trial showed the treatment significantly improved the long-term survival rate for patients whose glioblastoma returned. The three year survival rate was 21 percent for these patients, while only four percent of patients at Duke with the same type of recurring brain tumors were alive three years after having what was the standard treatment. Even a dead polio virus causes a very strong immune response the dead virus is used in the polio vaccine. Dr. Darell Bigner is the senior author of the study.
“What this did, very simply, was to destroy the ability of the polio virus to infect nerve cells and cause poliomyelitis any longer, but it retained the ability to kill cancer cells.”
Doctors injected the modified virus directly into the brain, they repeated the treatment on five patients whose cancer returned.
“Those that we’ve been able to follow long enough have responded to the treatment the second time.”
The procedure is still experimental, but the results are so promising. That doctors have started a second study combining the polio virus with chemotherapy to try to improve the results.As for Stephanie Hopper her tumor continues to shrink.
Carol Pearson VOA News.