Glioblastoma is the deadliest brain cancer in people. It’s the cancer that claimed the lives of Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy. Now, at Virginia Tech an experimental drug being tested on dogs could hold promise for people.
Emily, a 10-year-old portuguese water dog, is Laura Kamienski’s everything. When Emily was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer earlier this year, Laura was devastated.
“I sobbed. I sat in the middle of the exam room and sobbed,” Laura says.
Emily has glioblastoma and was given just three months to live. It’s a tough cancer to treat and options are limited. So Laura enrolled emily in a new clinical trial at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.
“That gave you hope? Yeah that gave me hope. I said i’ll do anything.”
A drug is injected directly into the tumor, getting right to the cancer while leaving healthy brain tissue undamaged.
“We watch the entire treatment on MRI. So we can watch the drug cover the tumor. And so we know we’ve achieved the treatment goals of actually targeting all the cancer cells,” explains Dr. John Rossmeisl, Professor Neurology and Neurosurgery.
Researchers say results are so promising the national institutes of health is now helping fund the trial hoping it can lead to a breakthrough for people.
It’s been six weeks since Emily’s first treatment.
Laura says, She hasn’t had a seizure since the last time she was here. She’s herself.”
MRI’s show her tumor is shrinking. Dr. John Rossmeis says images of Emily’s brain show that the tumor is dying.
And he adds, “The only way this could have been better if it was totally gone. This is really good news.”
Laura knows the treatment is not a cure, but she’s hoping that it gives Emily more time.
And maybe someday this same therapy will help people trying to beat this cancer.
In partnership with Wake Forest University, Virginia Maryland Veterinary College is still accepting dogs with glioblastoma into the clinical trial.