Elizabeth Marek, a mother of two from St. Louis Missouri, has a deadly form of brain cancer known as Glioblastoma, which has no cure and a life expectancy of two years after diagnosis.
A small tumor was found in her brain after she started experiencing aggressive headaches, and surgeons at Washington University removed the tumor in an emergency surgery. Eventually, a second tumor formed and this is when doctors asked her if she wanted to participate in a ‘science experiment.’
Currently, Marek is still alive because of a device that attacks her cancer cells with electric fields.
“Dr. George Ansstas fitted Marek with a device called Optune, developed by U.S.-based oncology firm Novocure. A backpack feeds to an array of electrodes attached to Marek’s head. Those electrodes create an electric field inside her brain which stops cell division in cancer cells,” according to Reuters News.
“There are highly charged particles in the cells that play a role in division and if you expose those cells to this electromagnetic field you might disrupt that process and lead cells to death,” Dr. Ansstas explained.
Marek has worn the device for more than a year and has experience positive results.
“The first time I got results back after using it for two weeks, I had a 30 percent reduction in my tumor size,” Marek said.
In clinical trials, the Optune extended patient’s lives by an average of three months. Also, after two years, 43 percent of the patients were still alive. Results of the clinical trials will be presented this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.
This device has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat adults with Glioblastoma and an estimated 2000 patients are currently using the device.