Health

Richard Scolyer: Top doctor remains brain cancer-free after a year

  • By Tiffanie Turnbull
  • BBC News, Sydney

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer are the 2024 Joint Australians of the Year.

A year after undergoing the world’s first treatment for glioblastoma, Australian doctor Richard Scolyer is still cancer-free.

The esteemed pathologist’s experimental therapy is based on his own pioneering research into melanoma.

The subtype of glioblastoma described by Professor Scolyer is so aggressive that most patients survive less than a year.

But on Tuesday, the 57-year-old announced that his latest MRI had yet to show any recurrence of the tumor.

“I couldn’t be happier!!” he wrote in a social media update.

Professor Scolyer is an internationally renowned pathologist and was this year named Australian of the Year alongside his colleague and friend Georgina Long, in recognition of their life-changing work on melanoma.

Co-directors of the Melanoma Institute Australia, over the past decade their research into immunotherapy, which uses the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells, has significantly improved outcomes for patients with advanced melanoma around the world. Half are now essentially cured, compared to less than 10%.

It is this research that Professor Long, alongside a team of doctors, uses to treat Professor Scolyer – in the hope of also finding a cure for his cancer.

In the case of melanoma, Professor Long and his team found that immunotherapy works best when a combination of drugs is used and when they are given before any surgery to remove a tumor. So, last year, Professor Scolyer became the first brain cancer patient to benefit from combined preoperative immunotherapy.

He is also the first to receive a vaccine personalized according to the characteristics of his tumor, which enhances the cancer-detecting powers of the drugs.

The results so far have generated enormous excitement and optimism that the duo may be close to making a discovery that could help the estimated 300,000 people diagnosed with brain cancer each year worldwide.

Roger Stupp – the doctor after whom the current glioblastoma treatment protocol is named – told the BBC earlier this year that Professor Scolyer’s prognosis was “bleak” and that it was too early to say whether the treatment was working .

He added that while Mr Scolyer’s initial results were “encouraging”, he wanted to see him reach 12 months, or even 18, without a recurrence before becoming enthusiastic.

Professors Scolyer and Long have previously said Professor Scolyer’s chances of a cure are “tiny”, but they hope the experimental treatment will prolong his life and translate into clinical trials for glioblastoma patients.

News Source : www.bbc.com
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