A 3-year-old South Dakota boy whose brain tumor treatment had been in question because of an insurance dispute is set to begin chemotherapy in Minnesota this week.
Cooper Urbaniak, who suffers from ependymoma, is to be admitted to the University of Minnesota Medical Center Tuesday to begin high-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.
The family’s insurance provider initially declared the procedure experimental and refused to pay for it. But under an agreement reached last month between Sanford Health Plan and the university, Sanford will pay for the chemotherapy and pay a discounted rate on the stem cell transplant.
Cooper’s father, Joe
Chemotherapy saves lives, but it also kills healthy tissue like bone marrow. According to a new study involving three patients with glioblastoma, a deadly cancer of the brain, stem cells from cancer patients’ own blood may protect their bone marrow from the toxic effects of treatment.
Glioblastomas often carry an active form of a gene called MGMT, which is a DNA repair enzyme that protects the cancer cells against chemotherapy. To overcome that protective effect, doctors use benzylguanine, a drug that blocks MGMT – but that drug also makes bone marrow and blood cells vulnerable. For this study, scientists at Fred Hutchinson
Much to the dismay of patients and physicians, cancer stem cells — tiny powerhouses that generate and maintain tumor growth in many types of cancers — are relatively resistant to the ionizing radiation often used as therapy for these conditions. Part of the reason, say researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, is the presence of a protective pathway meant to shield normal stem cells from DNA damage. When the researchers blocked this pathway, the cells became more susceptible to radiation.
“Our ultimate goal is to come up with a therapy that knocks out the cancer stem cells,” said Robert
An experimental drug currently being tested against breast and lung cancer shows promise in fighting the brain cancer glioblastoma and prostate cancer, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found in two preclinical studies.
The drug’s actions, observed in isolated human cells in one trial and in rodents in the other, are especially encouraging because they attacked not only the bulk of the tumor cells but also the rare cancer stem cells that are believed to be responsible for most of a cancer’s growth, said Dr. Jerry Shay, professor of cell biology and a senior co-author of both papers. The
After extensively using stem cell therapy for treatment of leukemia, doctors are now pushing for using it to help cure solid tumours.
Doctors from various countries have congregated in the city to deliberate on the efficacy of using stem cells to treat the side-effects of chemotherapy, which, if given in high dosage, kills healthy cells as well.
“In several patients we have observed that the white blood cell count plummets following chemotherapy. This brings down the person’s resistance to infections. By transplanting stem cells we could counter that,” said Dr Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra, oncologist at Global Cancer Institute which is organising