Arkansas woman 1st in U.S. to receive new treatment for brain tumors
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) —
A Hazen woman is the first person in the United States to receive a new method of treatment for brain tumors, involving injecting a cold virus into the tumor.
The treatment is part of a clinical trial at UAMS.
In January 2016, 63-year-old Beth Rogers noticed her left side wasn't keeping up with her right side.
"I was having trouble reaching for something and making contact," Rogers said. "I would have to watch my hand the whole way to make sure I picked up what I was aiming for."
When she told her daughter, she urged her mother to go to the emergency room.
There, doctors found a brain tumor.
"You just don't expect something like this to happen," Rogers said.
Rogers had surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy, but it wasn't enough.
"I knew I needed to do something else since the radiation and chemo together had failed to be effective," Rogers said. "I have so much to live for."
Rogers got in touch with MD Anderson. Doctors there referred her to a clinical trial in her own backyard -- at UAMS.
"We're using an adenovirus ... which means it attacks cancer cells but leaves normal cells alone," explained Dr. J.D. Day, a professor and chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at UAMS.
Once in place, the virus began multiplying, attacking cancer cells but not affecting healthy cells. Dr. Day says the virus replicates on its own, continuing the attack as long as cancer cells are present, so no further injections will be needed.
The surgery was successfully performed on October 5.
"Then it's being used in combination with a drug that's a biologic type drug; it helps the immune system work against tumor cells," Dr. Day explained.
Rogers has been taking immunotherapy treatment every three weeks since the procedure without complications or unexpected side effects, according to UAMS.
A few additional U.S. sites were approved to take part in the phase two trial, called CAPTIVE – Combination Adenovirus + Pembrolizumab to Trigger Immune Virus Effects – but when Rogers was identified as an ideal participant, UAMS became the first to actually perform the procedure.
Rogers says she is thankful for the treatment and also that she was able to have the procedure done so close to home.
Dr. Day hopes the combination of treatments will destroy her cancer permanently.