UM testing cancer vaccine
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Doctors with the University of Miami are testing a new vaccine to fight an aggressive form of brain cancer.
It's the same type of cancer that killed senator Ted Kennedy and baseball great Gary Carter. The UM Health Center is among only eight across the country, and the only in Florida, to test this vaccine designed to tackle an aggressive type of brain cancer.
Cathy Booker is the first patient enrolled in this trial in South Florida. She was diagnosed with Glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive type of brain cancer with often deadly results. "You never expect to hear something like that," she said about first hearing about the diagnosis, "and I wouldn't have found out about this and had the opportunity if it wasn't well known."
But Booker is a fighter, and she and her friends sent out email blasts looking for help. The search led them to UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. She traveled from Western Florida to Southern Florida. "So Cathy Booker is the first patient in the State of Florida to be enrolled in our protein vaccine trial for Glioblastoma multiforme," said Dr. Ricardo Komotar, an assistant professor of Neurological Surgery.
The treatment involves the creation of a vaccine using cells from the brain tumor. Doctors remove as much of the tumor that they can during surgery, and then a shot is administered. The vaccine targets any tumor cells that may be left behind or those that might form in the future. "The purpose of this vaccine trial is essentially to use her immune system to fight the tumor," said Komotar.
The late senator Ted Kennedy died of a similar type of brain tumor back in 2009. UM doctors said, though these cases are similar, Booker has youth on her side, and doctors are optimistic about her future. "Because it's from my body it'll work better, and I won't have side effects," Booker said, "and it will allow me to grow old with my children."
Booker has a long road ahead, though. She will have to undergo a lot of tests to see if, in fact, this vaccine is working. Doctors might not have the results for a couple of years. She is also currently undergoing chemotherapy, as well.
Each year alone in Florida, 600 patients are diagnosed with this type of cancer.
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