Monday, November 30, 2015

“Bacteria on the Brain” – Possible GBM Breakthrough?



I keep hoping for some innovative brain tumor cure, something unintuitive, daring and effective.

Here’s a long, interesting, tantalizing article from the Emily Eakin in the New Yorker magazine about one such potential solution from a brilliant surgeon, Dr. Paul Muizelaar who has treated glioblastoma with “…Enterobacter aerogenes, a common fecal bacterium.”

For me that fulfilled two of the three criterion: unintuitive and daring. The third, "effective", is still TBD.

Eakin writes that “The surgeons had no data to suggest what might constitute a therapeutic dose of Enterobacter, or a safe delivery method. The procedure was heretical in principle: deliberately exposing a patient to bacteria in the operating room violated a basic tenet of modern surgery, the concept known as “maintaining a sterile field,” which, along with prophylactic antibiotics, is credited with sharply reducing complications and mortality rates.”

So guess what happened? 

“For four weeks, Egan lay in intensive care, most of the time in a coma. Then, on the afternoon of November 10th, Muizelaar learned that a scan of Egan’s brain had failed to pick up the distinctive signature of glioblastoma. The pattern on the scan suggested that the tumor had been replaced by an abscess—an infection—precisely as the surgeons had intended. ‘A brain abscess can be treated, a glioblastoma cannot,’ Muizelaar told me. ‘I was excited, although I knew that clinically the patient was not better.’”

To read the rest of the article and the real live plot twists and turns, go to: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/bacteria-on-the-brain

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