Dr. John Boockvar, a Head for the Cure partner on our New York–area events and one of the subjects of the medical docu-drama Lenox Hill on Netflix, has recently begun the Phase 1 trial of a new surgical technique for glioblastoma.
In the new technique, during the resection (removal) of the initial glioblastoma tumor body, Dr. Boockvar grafts some fatty tissue from the patient’s belly into the space where the tumor used to sit. We admit this sounds strange. But the tissue he uses introduces immune cells that can help fight tumor recurrence, and the graft makes it easier for drugs to pass the blood-brain barrier during the chemotherapy that most patients go through.
Dr. Boockvar recently sat down with an interviewer at Trial Site News and answered questions about the new trial and his own personal history as a surgeon.
First, a little bit more about the technique and the trial:
- For this new trial, the grafted tissue comes from the a fatty flap in the belly called omentum.
- The omentum is rich in a kind of immune tissue called milky spots.
- For a long time, one of Dr. Boockvar’s research interests has been using the patient’s own tissue at surgery to bypass the blood brain barrier. Here is an article about a similar technique using scalp tissue.
- As a Phase 1 trial, this technique is currently focused on proving patient safety. 10 patients are enrolled and they’re being closely supervised by Dr. Boockvar’s team.
- As with any early trial involving the brain, the main things the team is looking to prevent from a safety perspective are what Dr. Boockvar calls the Three Cs: seizure, swelling, stroke. These are closely monitored for, and patients receive drugs to protect against them.
Safety of clinical trials is something that many patients want to know more about. A small Phase 1 trial, with a team that’s working very cautiously with a small group of patients, allows medical leaps to be made while ensuring safety for the patients involved.
Dr. Boockvar also reminds us that patients in clinical trials have better survival than patients who are not. In part that’s because they’re getting leading-edge medicine. But it’s not only that: patients on clinical trials typically receive more personalized attention from the most skilled experts.
Watch the Interview
Dr. Boockvar also offered some background on his own journey into medicine. He tells the interviewer that his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather were all physicians. However, his twin brother went into law, so “it’s a little bit nature, a little bit nurture,” he said in the interview.
As for achieving success in his field, he credits time management, constant practice, and continuing study of anatomy.
“You can never know too much anatomy.”
Read the press release from an earlier trial of Dr. Boockvar’s blood-brain barrier trials. https://www.northwell.edu/news/lenox-hill-first-to-study-using-tissue-autograft-for-gbm-tumors-in-humans
Watch Dr. Boockvar and other physicians battle the most deadly diseases on Netflix’s Lenox Hill. https://www.netflix.com/title/80201728