Recent Graduate Given Second Chance at Life
In 2015, Nick Stump was exploring young adulthood like any other 23-year-old college graduate. Nick had recently received his bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University and was serving as a dedicated speech and debate coach when he started experiencing extreme headaches accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Shortly after his unusual symptoms began, Nick received a crushing diagnosis. Nick had a Grade 3 meningioma, a rare tumor that forms on the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. The Grade 3 categorization meant his tumor was malignant and would grow quickly across the brain despite maximal surgical and radiotherapy treatment.
Nick’s diagnosis led him to Dr. Nader Sanai at the Barrow Neurological Institute, and a week after they met, Nick underwent a 19-hour surgery. His symptoms vanished following the successful surgery, and Nick was looking forward to his future. But before Nick had his life-saving surgery, he made the important decision to have Dr. Sanai genetically profile his tumor for more insights.
Three years later, Nick was moving the tassel on his graduation cap from right to left at San Diego State University after completing graduate school. The following day, Nick had a follow-up appointment with his oncologist — he was diagnosed with a tumor recurrence.
It was clear there were not many options for Nick, but fortunately, he was eligible for a Phase 0 clinical trial at the Ivy Brain Tumor Center. Additional tumor genetic profiling of tissue from Nick’s first surgery was used to identify a new experimental drug therapy tailored specifically to the genetics of his tumor. This personalized therapy approach is a part of the accelerated Phase 0 clinical trials program at the Ivy Brain Tumor Center led by Dr. Nader Sanai. Nick started taking the new, first-in-class drug for five days before his second surgery, and afterward, Dr. Sanai and his team discovered the drug had reached the tumor successfully and modulated its target. With this evidence, Nick started taking the drug as part of a therapeutic treatment regimen following surgery.
“It sounded like a really appealing approach at the time or a very innovative approach to make sure that medicine is personalized, is working and know that the medicine I’m taking is just for me,” said Nick.
Nick’s tumor remains undetectable thanks to the rapid workflow and novel design of the Ivy Center’s Phase 0 clinical trial. The Ivy team identified that a recently-developed drug intended for aggressive breast cancer could penetrate the blood-brain barrier and target Nick’s brain tumor — a rare step forward in neuro-oncology.