The Coastal Star

Health Notes: Neuroscience Institute’s trial aims to kill cancerous brain tumor cells

By Christine Davis

    Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s Marcus Neuroscience Institute has initiated a phase-two clinical trial of the immunotoxin MDNA55 in the treatment of patients with recurrent malignant brain tumors.
    Highly toxic to brain tumor cells, MDNA55 targets a cytokine, interleukin 4, which is found on the surface of most recurrent brain tumors. A protein derived from a bacterium associated with pneumonias and skin, tissue and urinary tract infections, MDNA55 is considered a targeted therapy because it is made to attach only to tumor cells. Most normal brain cells have no interleukin 4. As such, the trial aims to kill brain tumor cells and not harm healthy cells.
    The immunotoxin gets to the tumor through convection enhanced delivery, which is a therapy that introduces medication to the brain through tiny catheters implanted in the tumor for several hours.
    “Research to date on the therapy has been encouraging. In previous studies, complete or partial responses were seen in 56 percent of patients with these tumors,” said Dr. Frank Vrionis, director of the Marcus Neuroscience Institute. “Given those promising results, this therapy has received fast-track designation by the FDA, which expedites the development and review of drugs through trials such as ours.”
    Because of the nature of these malignancies and the complexity of the brain, long-term remissions can be difficult to obtain.
    “Recurrences, regretfully, are the norm despite radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy,” said Dr. Sajeel Chowdhary, director of neuro-oncology at the institute. “When they occur, options are limited, as most patients have already received all known available treatments. Our investigation into the use of immunotherapy for them is of the utmost importance and has the potential to pay great dividends.”
    The MDNA55 trial is one of 10 at Boca Regional’s Marcus Neuroscience and Lynn Cancer institutes that are investigating brain tumors, and part of a clinical research initiative between the hospital and Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.
    For information and enrollment, call Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s Office of Research at 955-4800.
                                
    In May, Boca Raton Regional Hospital received the 2017 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines — Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll Elite. The award recognizes the hospital’s continued success in providing up-to-date, evidence-based treatment guidelines to improve patient care and outcomes in the community.
                                
    Patricio Espinosa, MD, MPH, was appointed chief of neurology at Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s Marcus Neuroscience Institute. He joined the medical staff at the institute in December 2014 and served as director of neurology since December 2015.

    In his new duties, Espinosa will lead the program’s team of neurologists and provide support to the institute’s clinical and research efforts. He offers specialized expertise in adult neurology, epilepsy and sleep disorders.
                                
    Delray Medical Center performed its first incisionless surgery to treat heartburn.
The transoral incisionless fundoplication procedure, or TIF, uses a new device for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
    Many patients on reflux medication cannot eat certain foods or need to sleep sitting up. Also, long-term use of medication can lead to inadequate absorption of minerals, resulting in bone fractures, explained Dr. Andrew Zwick, gastroenterologist at Delray Medical Center.
    “After the TIF procedure, clinical trials show that most patients can eat and drink foods they avoided for many years. Reflux no longer impacts their life like it previously did.”  Because the procedure is incisionless, there is less pain, reduced recovery and no scar. 
                                
    Congestive heart failure is on the rise, affecting more than 5 million people in the United States. Doctors at Bethesda Heart Hospital and Bethesda’s Research Center, in conjunction with Research Physicians Alliance, are studying a treatment for chronic heart failure through a national clinical trial, DREAM-HF-1.
    Using stem cells, this study aims to enhance the function of the heart muscle by regenerating heart tissue. The treatment involves obtaining stem cells from healthy donors, which are later injected into the heart muscles of study participants via catheterization procedures.
    Cardiologist George K. Daniel, M.D., is the principal investigator, with medical cardiologist Christina Michael, M.D., evaluating the study patients.  For more information, call Bethesda Health Research Center at 374-5020.
                                
    Boca Raton-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America Global has appointed Ankur R. Parikh, D.O., as medical director of precision medicine.
                                
    Whether it’s a silver bullet or snake oil, sales of the essential oil copaiba are increasing, because more than 54 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis, and side effects of conventional treatment include gastrointestinal bleeding, heart attacks and stroke.
    As a result, new therapies are being tested, including Copaifera reticulata, or copaiba, but researchers from Florida Atlantic University caution that randomized trials are necessary to know whether this treatment is effective, and their commentary is published in the journal Integrative Medicine.
    “The only published data on copaiba on humans includes one case series and one small randomized trial of another inflammatory condition and not arthritis. To complete the totality of evidence, copaiba should be first tested in a randomized trial against a placebo in patients with inflammatory arthritis,” said Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Dr.P.H., senior academic adviser to the dean at FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine and senior author of the paper.
    “If such a trial shows a net benefit, then the next step would be direct randomized comparisons against nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitors,” the two common conventional treatments.
Send health news to Christine Davis at cdavis9797@gmail.com

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