Sant Joan de Déu Hospital in Barcelona successfully treats child with brain tumor with adult cancer medication

Professionals from the SJD Pediatric Cancer Center Barcelona of the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu have. successfully treated Makar, a five-year-old boy born in Russia, who had a brain tumor no cure options with two medications commonly used for the adult lung cancerreported in a press release on Monday.

At only one year of age, Makar was diagnosed in 2019 a serious brain tumor, a high-grade infantile hemispheric glioma, for which he underwent surgery and treatment in his hometown, St. Petersburg (Russia). Chemotherapy treatment did not work and, when Russian oncologists offered no life-saving options, the boy’s family contacted Sant Joan de Déu’s international patient care department.

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The center prescribed these treatments after carrying out a molecular analysis of the tumor at different stages of the evolution of the disease: genetic alterations were discovered that changed over time and conditioned a change in the targeted treatment.

Specifically, molecular analysis revealed that the tumor presented a alteration involving the ALK gene, frequent in adult lung cancer.s, so they had to find a drug to target this gene modification and get it to the brain.

Pioneering treatment

This is the first time in the world that this drug is administered to a minor in this situation, so the oncologists contacted the pharmaceutical company to predict what dose could be well tolerated by the minor and at the same time be effective.

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Weeks after receiving the treatment, they found that the size of the child’s tumor had reduced markedly, almost disappearing, but three months later, the glioma had generated resistance to the treatment and had grown again.

Visible improvement

They operated again on the child, removed the entire tumor and sent it for analysis: they detected a second alteration in the same ALK gene, so they considered giving the patient another drug also indicated for lung cancer in adults.

Again they contacted the corresponding pharmaceutical company because it had never been administered before in cases like his, and the second treatment managed to reduce the tumor again, but it grew again.

The patient underwent surgery and received proton radiation therapyone year later, the tumor has disappeared and there is no evidence of disease.

At present, the minor maintains a “certain psychomotor delay”, but has ostensibly improved his state of health: he has managed to walk again, albeit with assistance, and to communicate and make himself understood.

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