See Inside March / April 2010

New Hope for Battling Brain Cancer

Studies suggest that stem cells sustain deadly tumors in the brain—and that aiming at these insidious culprits could lead to a cure

In May 2006 Dwayne Berg woke up on a gurney in a Seattle emergency room, an IV in his arm and a team of doctors and nurses working him up. The last thing the 42-year-old financial executive could remember was running on a treadmill at his gym, part of his regular fitness regimen. He had suffered a seizure and tumbled off the machine, and although he had not hurt himself in the fall, doctors had asked for an MRI scan of his brain to see if they could find a cause for the seizure.

They did, and the news was not good: the scan showed a large mass in the left frontal lobe that turned out to be a malignant glioma, a brain cancer that is almost invariably fatal. Berg underwent standard treatment: an operation to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy and radiation to eradicate any cancer cells that might remain.

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