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New brain tumor treatment looks promising, but probably not miracle cure

| | March 31, 2015

CBS’ hit newsmagazine 60 Minutes devoted not one but two segments to an early-stage trial at Duke University of a cancer therapy that some patients are calling a “miracle.” It’s a genetically modified form of the polio virus, injected directly into the brains of patients with glioblastoma, a particularly deadly type of brain tumor. Eleven of the 22 patients treated so far died, but the other 11 have seen their tumors shrink. Three featured in the story are cancer-free.

No wonder correspondent Scott Pelley and more than a few doctors and patients were throwing around the word “cure” during the piece. This is usually a devastating diagnosis: Median survival is little more than 14 months and two-year survival is just 30 percent, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. The disease takes 12,000 lives per year in the U.S. Surely anything that makes a glioblastoma melt away is worth some attention.

The virus was engineered by Dr. Matthias Gromeier, a molecular biologist at Duke who has been working on the treatment for the last 25 years. As Pelley explained, Gromeier removed part of the virus’ genetic material, which rendered it incapable of harming normal cells. That means it can only replicate in cancer cells, and in the process of doing so, it kills them while sparing healthy tissues. It’s a promising new approach in the burgeoning area of cancer immunotherapy.

But this is just a Phase I study, and as has been shown so many times in the past with experimental cancer treatments, early hopes are so often dashed.

Read full, original article: Here’s What ’60 Minutes’ Didn’t Tell You About The Miracle Glioblastoma Treatment

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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