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Radioactive Treatment Acts As 'GPS' During Brain Surgery

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Posted at 4:46 PM, Jun 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-09 02:41:09-04

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Ivanhoe) – The survival rate for a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma is about 10 percent over a five year period. External radiation treatment has always been challenging because the beams must pass through healthy tissue. A new method has been showing promise.

David Williams entered a clinical trial to treat the recurrence of a malignant Brain tumor called glioblastoma. He was upbeat for someone who just had an invasive treatment.

Neurosurgeon Dr. John Floyd with the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio said he was optimistic about the new treatment.

"This trial is very promising, because it's completely out of the box…it's not chemotherapy, it's not surgery,” he said.

The treatment is an infusion of radioactive isotope called rhenium-186. Delivered directly into the tumor by catheter, the isotopes are enclosed in fat particles that stabilize them and keep them inside of the tumor.
John Floyd, MD

"What I tell patients is it's like GPS for the brain and we can pinpoint just exactly where we want it to go,” said Dr. Floyd.

The radioactive particles stay inside the tumor, so radiation can be delivered in higher doses.

David's treatment took about four hours. His wife, Shannon, was amazed at his quick recovery right after the treatment was over.

"He was already talking,” she said.

Research neuro-oncologist Andrew Brenner said it was key that the rhenium-186 stayed right in the tumor.

"There was no leakage of this drug anywhere outside of the area that we were targeting,” said Brenner.

David Williams is the first person in the U-S to have this very focused radiation treatment. Doctors said if the trial goes as planned, it may be used in the future for initial brain tumor treatments.