Historic clinic trial to cure rare side effect

Joseph Hudgins

A collaboration between the UK Hospital and the Norton Brownsboro Hospital in Louisville may make history to find a possible cure to a rare side effect of radiation therapy in brain tumor patients. 

Radiation necrosis affects between three to five percent of patients, killing the brain tissue around the tumor and triggering symptoms such as nausea, severe headaches, and cognitive problems, according to a UKNOW press release.   

Dr. Shervin Dashti and Dr. Tom Yao of the Norton Neuroscience Institute and Dr. Justin Fraser of UK will have joint clinical trials to test out the drug Avastin on 10 different patients, split evenly between the hospitals. Previous trials of Avastin have proven successful if administered through the veins (or IV), but this trial would be the first attempt to administer the drug through the arteries in medical history.

When approached about conducting the trial, Dr. Fraser, director of cerebrovascular surgery and surgical director of the comprehensive stroke center at UK, thought it would be a great opportunity to work on Dr. Dashti’s “brainchild.”

“I thought it would be a good idea for us to collaborate. We do a lot of research at UK; we kind of have a good apparatus for it, which is certainly helpful for him,” Dr. Frasersaid.

Three years ago Dr. Dashti developed the treatment for two girls, aged 12 and 13, experiencing radiation necrosis.

They were initally given the regular, but faulty treatment of medical steroids, As a result, one girl developed seizures in her arm and leg, the other was hospitalized for fluid overload, and each gained between 50 to 60 pounds, among other debilitating side effects. After Dr. Dashti’s exploratory treatment of a low dose of Avastin to the brain, each girl recovered fully within two years.

“The process was intended to save their lives. The next step we are doing in this process is in systematic ways in really controlled conditions. We need to do it with more patients, which is why we’re doing 10 patients to see if they’re going to have the similar result as those two patients,” Dr. Dashti said.  

Trial patients will have their one-time surgery, followed by routine check-ups with MRI’s about every six months to determine the drug’s effectiveness. Five patients will be performed on at each hospital, and then the doctors will corroborate their findings over time.