NEWS
GOOD PEOPLE
HISTORY
LIFE HACKS
THE PLANET
SCIENCE & TECH
POLITICS
WHOLESOME
WORK & MONEY
About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Doctor recovers from incurable brain cancer using his own experimental treatment

The professor took a leap of faith, using his own pioneering research, with phenomenal results.

Doctor recovers from incurable brain cancer using his own experimental treatment
Cover Image Source: YouTube | @ABCNewsindepth

In June 2023, Professor Richard Scolyer faced a life-threatening diagnosis: an aggressive form of incurable brain cancer called glioblastoma. As an esteemed pathologist who had studied cancer for years, he found himself at a crossroads. He could either push for a groundbreaking breakthrough in his research or accept a grim prognosis. Scolyer chose to take a gamble, and a year later, he is now cancer-free.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro
Representative Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro

As the medical director of the Melanoma Institute Australia, Professor Scolyer has conducted groundbreaking research on melanoma, a form of skin cancer. However, when he was diagnosed with cancer, international headlines buzzed with a compelling question: “Could he save himself with his own research?”

Representative Image Source: Pexels | tima miroshnichenko
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Tima Miroshnichenko

It all began while traveling in Poland with his wife, Katie Nicoll. One day, after hiking mountain trails, he woke up the next morning “not feeling quite right," he told ABC News. "I had a brief phone call with my mum back in Tasmania. I don't remember much after that. I know now I had a seizure." After some tests in the hospital, Professor Scolyer was diagnosed with glioblastoma IDH wild-type.

According to the Brain Tumour Charity, glioblastoma is a type of brain cancer that is incredibly aggressive. Only 25% of those diagnosed live past the first year, and the five-year survival rate is only 5%.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | shvetsa
Representative Image Source: Pexels | shvetsa

After receiving the heartbreaking news, the professor's wife's first phone call was to his Melanoma Institute Australia co-medical director, Georgina Long. "Nothing had prepared me for that phone call from Katie in Poland," Professor Long said. "When I got that call, I got a physical pain like nothing I've ever experienced before and it was grief for what Richard and his family were about to go through and for the thought of losing my dear friend and colleague."


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Prof Richard Scolyer AO - My Uncertain Path (@profrscolyer)


 

After the phone call, Long started researching glioblastoma, speaking to experts, and looking up clinical trials. "It was a barren landscape. You could count the number of immunotherapy clinical trials for glioblastoma almost on one hand," she said. Despite no existing clinical trial available for this type of cancer, both Scolyer and his colleague Long were determined to do something. They pored through their years of research on melanoma and figured out a set of immunotherapy drugs that Scolyer would be given as an experiment before surgery.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Prof Richard Scolyer AO - My Uncertain Path (@profrscolyer)


 

They announced publicly that they had "generated in 10 weeks discoveries that would normally take years." However, Scolyer told BBC that this actually came with huge risks. Many doctors were concerned whether the immunotherapy drugs would even reach his brain. Plus, they wondered that these drugs could be toxic when mixed, and they warned that his brain could swell and he could die suddenly. But Scolyer had already decided to take a leap of faith.

Twelve days after he was given the immunotherapy drugs, Scolyer underwent surgery to have his tumor removed. Then several tests were carried out to verify if the drugs had prompted any positive effect. The test results were nothing short of “phenomenal,” Long described.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Prof Richard Scolyer AO - My Uncertain Path (@profrscolyer)


 

They discovered that there was a tenfold increase in the immune cells in the tumor, that they were activated against the cancer and they were bound to the drug. "Proving something that we'd already shown in melanoma, that there is no blood-brain barrier and historically conceptualized, preventing the drugs from reaching the tumor," Long said, and added, "We could not have hoped for better results."


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Prof Richard Scolyer AO - My Uncertain Path (@profrscolyer)


 

Dr. Jeffrey S. Weber, co-leader of the center’s Melanoma Research Program, who was not involved in this research, told The New York Post, “I would think of it as sort of a Hail Mary. And it worked out, which is great for Rich. I mean, I saw him a few months ago and he looked pretty darn good.”



 

More Stories on Good