Battle is Personal

The Battle Has Become Personal for Neurosurgeon

When it comes to attacking the most aggressive forms of cancer in the brain, it’s not just a job for neurosurgeon Edie Zusman, M.D. It’s personal.

Personalized medicine, that is. It’s a high-tech tactic focused on creating the perfect weapon to wipe out glioblastoma and other tumors.

It starts with the patient’s first surgery. If they sign a consent form, tissue removed as part of the standard
of care is sent by courier to a lab in San Francisco.

Within hours, Liliana Soroceanu, M.D., PhD, a researcher with the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, takes the tissue and essentially grows the tumor over the next several months in her lab. Sequencing and pharmacological tests begin to see what drugs—including some in clinical trials—are the most effective in shrinking the tumor.

“We are trying to understand the specific characteristics of each brain tumor and thus design the best approach for that particular patient,” explained Dr. Soroceanu.

Although Dr. Zusman uses the tactic in her neuro-oncology cases, it is also used in melanoma and high-grade tumors of the breast, pancreas, colorectum, lung, liver and ovary.

Armed with the knowledge of how a patient’s unique tumor responds to specific chemicals, Dr. Zusman can then discuss options with her patient to determine the best course of treatment. “I believe it’s the medicine of the future,” said Dr. Zusman. “We’re taking medicine to an individual level.”

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