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Brain Tumor Trial Offers New Hope for Patients

(ARA) - In December of 2000, Dave Herbert, a retired airline pilot from Northern California, visited his doctor after experiencing sudden headaches, fatigue and blurred vision. A CAT scan and surgical biopsy revealed that Dave, 58 years old at the time, was one of 10,000 Americans who are diagnosed each year with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive and deadliest form of brain tumor. “Up until then, I was a pretty healthy guy. It was a very sudden and devastating experience,” said Herbert.

GBM most often occurs in people between the ages of 40 and 60 and can grow very rapidly over a few weeks or months. According to the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA), 41,000 Americans are diagnosed with some form of brain tumor each year with 23 percent of those tumors a GBM. Because the area of the brain that is first affected by GBM often determines the symptoms, people with the tumor may experience headaches, seizures, impairment of strength, coordination, sensation, speech and vision, personality changes, and slowing of cognitive function.

For patients with GBM, the usual treatment is surgery, followed by radiation therapy and anticancer drugs. But unlike other tumors, such as early stage breast or prostate cancer, GBM spreads rapidly making it impossible for a surgeon to remove every bit of the tumor. Most people live for up to one year after initial diagnosis of GBM and, on average, four to six months after the first recurrence of this cancer, due in large part to the aggressive nature of the tumor and very limited treatment options.

Using current surgical techniques for brain tumor resection, neurosurgeons today may be able to remove 95 percent or more of a GBM tumor. However, cancer cells still remain scattered throughout the brain tissue surrounding the tumor area. As a result, after having his initial tumor removed, Dave's tumor grew back in May of 2001. After discussing the limited treatment options available with his healthcare team, Dave elected to enroll in a clinical trial at University of California San Francisco Medical Center.

In the trial, he received a novel investigational therapy cintredekin besudotox (IL13-PE38QQR or “IL-13”) which preferentially targets GBM cells while sparing normal brain cells and tissue. Nearly four and a half years later, Dave is alive and tumor free. Typically, only three percent of patients diagnosed with a GBM live up to five years. Cintredekin besudotox is now being studied in one of the largest and most comprehensive clinical trials ever conducted to identify new and more effective treatments for GBM brain tumors. Known as PRECISE, this clinical trial is designed to enroll approximately 300 patients at sites in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Israel.

To participate in this study, a person must be at least 18 years of age and have a diagnosis of GBM at first recurrence. Now 62 years old, David Herbert is enjoying retirement and a new lease on life. "Each and every day is special to me," said Herbert. "I know I'm a lucky guy." To learn more about brain tumors, potential symptoms, treatment options and patient support, please visit the Web sites of the member organizations of the North American Brain Tumor Coalition, http://www.nabraintumor.org. For more information on cintredekin besudotox and the PRECISE clinical trial, please visit http://www.precisetrial.com or phone (800) 592-6016. Courtesy of ARA Content

 

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