Cancer Drug Shrinks Benign Tumors That Steal Hearing

"This treatment is indeed a novel approach," said Dr. Bruce Korf, chair of the department of genetics at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and an expert on neurofibromatosis.

"There is enough encouraging evidence to lead to a larger study of this treatment for NF patients," added Korf. "It is really exciting, but will require a lot of follow-up research."

Emmanuelle di Tomaso, who did pioneering work with bevacizumab and tumors at Massachusetts General, is also enthusiastic. "We were all fascinated by what we were seeing in the patients," said study co-author Di Tomaso, who is now a biomarker project leader at Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research in Cambridge, Mass.

Garrett, meanwhile, graduated from college and went to graduate school to study mathematics. In September, she will begin teaching math at a school for the deaf and hearing-impaired in Georgia.

She doesn't know how long she can take the medicine, but Plotkin said he hopes to answer that question soon.

For now, she revels in hearing the everyday sounds that she lost for a while. "I got my life back," she said. "I am so lucky."

More information

Go to the National Library of Medicine for more on acoustic neuromas.

SOURCES: Scott Plotkin, M.D., clinical director, Neurofibromatosis Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Bruce Korf, M.D., professor and chair, department of genetics, University of Alabama, Birmingham; Emmanuelle di Tomaso, Ph.D., biomarker project leader, Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research, Cambridge, Mass.; July 23, 2009, New England Journal of Medicine

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