Glioblastoma, the brain cancer that Sen. John McCain has, is invariably — and accurately — described as aggressive and as having a poor prognosis: Not even Sen. Edward Kennedy or Beau Biden, with access to the best care and most cutting-edge therapies in the world, beat it. Recent advances, however, have persuaded some scientists that effective treatments are on the horizon — and some might even help McCain live longer than earlier patients did. 

“We’ve learned a tremendous amount about the biology of this cancer,” said Dr. David Reardon, director of neuro-oncology at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. That includes understanding “the mutations and other abnormalities that give tumors an advantage, how they adapt and become resistant [to chemotherapy], and how to get treatments across the blood-brain barrier” that is notorious for keeping out drugs.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT Plus and enjoy your first 30 days free!

GET STARTED

What is it?

STAT Plus is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • Online intelligence briefings
  • Frequent opportunities to engage with veteran beat reporters and industry experts
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

  • Too bad Pelosi blocked that “Right to Try” legislation to allow dying Americans the use of Experimental Drugs.

  • I’m a patient diagnosed with Gioblastoma September 10,2017. I went under surgery and just finished 30 days of radiation and tomodar. I am 60 years old old. I’m doing better than doctors expected. I’m interested in DC Vax for I read great things about it. I would like to know when would it be available or if I qualify for trial. My closest hospital is UCSD Moore cancer. I live in San Diego, California.
    Thank you,
    Army Retired Veteran
    Richard Ramirez
    6192087315

  • I’ve seen some interesting headlines in the last month about the effect the Zika virus is having on brain cancer cells in mice…very early in the research, but bears watching.

  • Hi,

    Where can I get more information about this treatment posted by Bob. I am newly diagonal.

    Thank you very much for your help.

    Regards

    Richard

    Bob
    JULY 28, 2017 AT 1:55 PM
    My guess would be that Chemo was a big part of your friends treatment but if you research some of the new therapy like DCVAX you would find out that it literally has no side effects. Currently in Phase 3 testing it has shown to extent the life of a large number of people in their trail to over 5 years to some over 10 years. I have learned that their are 3 (3 or 4) sub types of this cancer.

  • The title should be revised to 88 experimental therapies. Istari Oncology (www.istarioncology.com) is successfully using PVS-RIPO, the polio virus, as an immunotherapy for glioblastoma. They are enrolling Ph 2, and earlier studies done at Duke have seen some “disease-free” patients result from its use. It’s been featured twice on 60 Minutes.

  • Is there any information from using these new approaches to treat early, slowly returning of grade 2 gliomas?
    Thank you for finding such information

  • My sympathies to Senator McCain and to anyone with this diagnosis. My advice to him is to seek no treatment at all. Enjoy your days, sir. While I applaud these medical research efforts, its a cruel game to play on an 80 year old….My good friend tried an experimental treatment – and the doctors spoke of more! Hope was dangled like a fishing lure. It did extend his life, but in many it was his dying life and not his living life, if that makes sense. Confusion, personality change, collapses, descent. After a few years of that, he died when he was 52. Maybe the doctors learned something. I did, too.

    • I agree with pursuing whatever good days left and avoid treatments that will not make his disease chronic and will probably make him terribly sick. I was told four years ago I had 3 to 6 months and chose treatment after treatment and I am back to the same place 3 to 6 months. I wish I would have trusted my own body and done nothing.

    • My guess would be that Chemo was a big part of your friends treatment but if you research some of the new therapy like DCVAX you would find out that it literally has no side effects. Currently in Phase 3 testing it has shown to extent the life of a large number of people in their trail to over 5 years to some over 10 years. I have learned that their are 3 (3 or 4) sub types of this cancer.
      And DCVAX has shown a very good therapy for 2 of the sub types. Again no side effects…….. I was careful to get everything correct in my response.
      Looks like Sarcoma will be next with a trial for DCVAX, the FDA page is up for the trial.

    • My 13-year old son was diagnosed in April 2013. We read some many hopeful article and spoke to so many optimistic medical professionals that we pursued multiple surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, and a trial study. After constant deterioration at each stage, he succumbed to the disease eight months later. In hindsight, it would have been better to forego the life-altering surgeries and enjoy the time remaining. But the toughest thing to do ( and may be impossible) is not to fight when there is a glimmer of hope. Glioblastoma is truly a monster that may be impossible to defeat.

  • Does Senator McCain have some type of chronic infection & inflammation on the left lower side of his face at jaw level, possibly due to an old jaw fracture or dental problem.

    • You are right, Optum’s “Electric Cap” it is not mentioned. The Optum cap is a tumor size reduction type device and not a cure. It is used along other therapies, (possibly to reduce brain pressure caused by a growing tumor) with side effects also.

      Bob’s mentioned DCVAX is proven UP TO Phase III CLINICAL TRIAL to be a non-toxic Cell immuno approach. TIME TO APPROVAL IS THE ONLY HOPE! I wonder if there is a Phase IV clinical trial planned or ready for approval.

  • This article brings up in references an incredibly extensive, specific cancer research, therapeutic applications and progress over the last 20 years.

    Considering the fact that personalized neo-antigen therapeutics has a time constrain from development to application; prevention and hopeful cure calls for causality to be addressed earlier.

    Maybe, DNA / Neo-antigen identification and development for prevention could be initiated upon expected exposure to radiation during treatment of other known factors and depending on expected cancer radiation treatment impact.

    How many traumas are treated as just an injury without proper diagnostics and treatment, relevant potential identification of neurological diseases?
    Could overversighted diagnostics lead to glioblastoma disease, possibly masked under pain and other medications!

    • I Hope this DCVax will be available in Mount Sani hospital in NYC. My Husband is diagnosed with Glioblastoma stage three in May 2017. I Love him and need him .
      He is a fighter Great Daddy to his three daughters, dog and cat. Please help with the cure. Until then we continue to Adorn him. We Love you John Lebron.

A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day in science and medicine

Privacy Policy