A Helmet Shrank a Brain Tumor by a Third

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A new treatment for brain tumours has shown to shrink a man’s aggressive glioblastoma tumour by a third, and he did well at home wearing a non-invasive helmet.

Glioblastoma Brain Tumour

Glioblastoma is an aggressive and rare type of brain tumour usually fatal in adults. Within a year of the diagnosis, 75% of patients die, and about 5% live more than five years.

The treatment typically begins with a risky surgery to cut out most of the brain tumour, and then the patient usually undergoes radiation or chemotherapy.

These treatments’ side effects are harmful to the patient’s overall health. In addition, the therapies themselves cannot cure brain cancer, and they extend the patient’s life a little longer.

Glioblastoma Kills 200,000 Per Year

Over the past few decades, the survival rates for glioblastoma have remained the same, meaning the ability to treat brain cancer hasn’t been much.

If nothing is done about this, about 200,000 people will die worldwide.

Improved Brain Tumor Treatment

Researchers from Houston Methodist Neurological Institute did a study where they discovered they could destroy glioblastoma cells in the lab by exposing them to fluctuating magnetic fields, which they invented by using electricity to rotate magnets precisely.

They think the fields interrupt the electron’s transportation during the procedure used to make energy for cells.

Although compounds created by tumour cells are required to trigger the disruption, healthy cells can be safe while the brain tumour cells are destroyed.

The Study 

The researchers 2019 received FDA approval to test the treatment on a man whose brain tumour wasn’t affected by aggressive cancer treatments.

For three days, they trained the guy and his wife on how to give the treatment using a helmet equipped with several rotating magnets.

He was sent home along with the instructions and helmet to deliver the brain tumour therapy for two hours every day before working his way up to six hours.

Brain Tumour Helmet Study Results

He used it for 36 days before getting an unrelated head injury that led to his death. The family allowed the researchers to autopsy his brain, discovering that the tumour had shrunk by 31% since they started the study.

The Future of Glioblastoma

While the study is inspiring, the scientists will need to prove their brain tumour therapy can help more than one patient.

The unfortunate head injury would mean that they do not know if shrinking the tumour in the short-term improves overall survival rates. However, this helmet technology can mark a turning point in the fight against glioblastoma.

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Dean Mathers

Editor-in-chief

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