In precision medicine, pioneering young patient teaches veteran doctor

Allison Schablein seems an unlikely candidate to teach medicine to Mark Kieran. She’s an 8-year-old New Hampshire second grader who loves basketball, hip hop, acrobatic dancing and jewelry. He’s a pediatric neuro-oncologist with a PhD in molecular biology, not to mention decades of clinical and research experience. But teach Kieran, Allison does. In December 2012, Allison was diagnosed with metastatic anaplastic astrocytoma brain tumors — two on her brain stem, two on her spine, and three at the top of her head. She had surgery and chemotherapy — and for two months her tumors responded to therapy. Then treatment stopped working. Genomic testing revealed Allison’s tumors had a genetic mutation — a so-called BRAF mutation — seen in some cases of the skin cancer melanoma, which mainly affects adults. Kieran, clinical director of the Brain Tumor Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, suggested enrolling Allison on a clinical trial of dabrafenib, a drug targeting the BRAF mutation in melanoma patients. She would be the first pediatric brain tumor patient in the world to join the trial. At first glance, it might seem odd to treat a skin cancer and brain tumor with the same drug, but precision medicine  looks at common mutations rather than the part of the body the cancer affects. Allison is examined by nurse Maryann Zimmerman. Precision medicine in action Within two months, Allison’s tumors were gone — or, at least, had shru...
Source: Thrive, Children's Hospital Boston - Category: Pediatrics Authors: Tags: Diseases & Conditions Our Patients’ Stories Research Brain tumor Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center glioma Mark Kieran precision medicine Source Type: news