Immunotherapy trial treatment getting results for cancer patients

Florida Hospital first site in nation for clinical trial

ORLANDO, Fla. – Karen Bierer was given two years to live after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The 70-year-old is one of nearly 21,000 women in the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly disease every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chemotherapy and radiation were nothing new to Bierer, a breast cancer survivor.

"You could just run your fingers through your hair and have clumps of hair, and I thought, I'm not putting up with that," Bierer said.

Fortunately, her oncologist at Florida Hospital, Dr. Robert Holloway, was already developing a clinical trial to kill ovarian cancer.

"There are a lot of secrets we just haven't discovered them yet, that's what we're working on," Holloway said.

The immunotherapy treatment uses a derivative of smallpox to stimulate the immune system and highlight and kill the cancer cells.

"Within a week or two, just like the common cold, your own immune system makes antibodies and clears the virus so it's got a very short opportunity to try to kill cancer," Holloway said.

In September 2016, Bierer was selected and received treatment as the sixth patient in the trial. [Read the full study here]

"This was different in the fact that they administer the drug on day one, and they administer it on day two, and you're done," Bierer said.

Sixteen months later, Bierer and her husband said they play golf at least once a week and are living with the mantra "positive vibes only."

 "It's not the death sentence it used to be," Bierer said of cancer.

Patients interested in joining the Genelux study can find more information online at www.clinicaltrials.gov, and should consult with their physician.

About the Author: