Malaria Drug Successfully Treats 26-year-old Brain Cancer Patient
After her brain cancer became resistant to chemotherapy and then to targeted treatments, 26-year-old Lisa Rosendahl’s doctors gave her only a few months to live. This study describes a new drug combination that has stabilized Rosendahl’s disease and increased both the quantity and quality of her life: Adding the anti-malaria drug chloroquine to her treatment stopped an essential process that Rosendahl’s cancer cells had been using to resist therapy, re-sensitizing her cancer to the targeted treatment that had previously stopped working. Along with Rosendahl, two other brain cancer patients were treated with the combination and both showed similar, dramatic improvement. “When I was 21, they found a large mass in my brain and I had it resected right away. They tested it for cancer and it came back positive,” Lisa says. “Lisa is a young adult with a very strong will to live. But it was a high-risk, aggressive glioblastoma and by the time we started this work, she had already tried everything. For that population, survival rates are dismal. Miraculously, she had a response to this combination. Four weeks later, she could stand and had improved use of her arms, legs and hands,” says first author Jean Mulcahy-Levy, MD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
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