HealthWatch: A New Attack on Brain Cancer

By , Chelly Boutott, Local 5 News

Published 12/15 2013 11:46AM

Updated 01/03 2014 06:21PM

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Glioblastoma-it's one of the most deadly forms of cancer. About 10,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with this aggressive brain tumor. Now, there's a new treatment that may offer hope.

Burhan and Renee Oral know moments like these are precious. Burhan has glioblastoma - an aggressive brain cancer.

"They told me I had three to six months to live," Burhan told Ivanhoe.

"Never ever, ever give up. That's what I tell him," Renee told Ivanhoe.

Five surgeries and 2 ½ years later-Burhan is still here, but his cancer came back a few months ago.

"It's very much like we are playing chess with the tumor cells. For every drug we give it, the tumor cells could make a move," Clark Chen, MD, PhD, Vice Chairman of Neurosurgery, University of California, San Diego, told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Clark Chen told Burhan about a clinical trial testing a new, minimally invasive treatment for glioblastoma. First-he makes a small hole in the skull. Using MRI to guide a catheter to the brain, he then injects a virus directly into the tumor, which lights up on scans.

"So, we can actually see in real-time where the virus is as we inject it," Dr. Chen said.

The patient then takes a powerful anti-fungal drug that goes into every cell in the body. The virus activates the drug, telling it to attack the tumor.

"What we are able to see is that the area where the viruses are injected, the tumor is melting away," Dr. Chen said.

Since the treatment, scans show no signs of cancer growth and Burhan continues to hope for the best.

The treatment is given as part of a phase one clinical trial. It's considered a minimally-invasive brain procedure, and patients are discharged one day after having it. Because it's a targeted approach, Dr. Chen says there are fewer side effects. In fact, he hasn't observed any unwanted side effects in his patients.

Copyright Copyright 2013 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.