STANFORD (CBS 5) — For the first time in three decades, there is new hope in the fight against a lethal brain tumor that strikes only children. The discovery was made possible when the parents of a young Bay Area boy met a dedicated scientist at Stanford.
3-year old Jayden Jewett is getting a good look at a true superhero. He’s on the sofa with his mom Danah and his dad John, and they’re looking at a book containing photos of his late, older brother Dylan.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming Your Way?
John Jewett is with the U.S. Air Force and is currently stationed at Travis Air force base in Fairfield. When asked about Dylan, Mr. Jewett said he was a remarkable kid, adding “He was very empathic to the needs of others.”
Mrs. Jewett chimed in how Dylan always wanted to help others, especially children.
She said Dylan “would wear his little superman outfit and he would put his regular clothes on over it, just in case there was any danger, he was ready to change and become Superman.”
3 years ago, Dylan was the one in danger.
In 2008, at the age of 5, when the family was stationed in Guam, the young boy fell ill. He was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive brain tumor, known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG for short.
This cancer appears in the brain stem, invading healthy brain tissue.
Dr. Michelle Monje is a pediatric neuron-oncologist and a neurologist at Stanford. She said when it comes to DIPG “It’s really a horrible disease”.
Even with treatment, the prognosis is grim. Chemotherapy does not work. Because of where the tumor is located, it can’t be cut out. Radiation only prolongs survival. This cancer is almost universally fatal.
“The medium survival for this really horrible brain tumor that afflicts specifically children is 9 months,” Monje said.
There have been no new medical advances to treat this cancer for 35 years. Scientists can’t biopsy the tumor without causing irreparable harm to the small child. Monje treats these patients, and has seen the tumor take its toll.READ MORE: UPDATE: 3 Injured In Shooting At San Leandro Birthday Party; Hesperian Blvd. Shut Down
But now there is new hope thanks to Dylan, Monje and a team of Stanford scientists.
When Dylan was brought to the medical center, he was at the end of his life. That’s where his parents met with Monje.
They then asked if they could donate their son’s tumor after he died.
Mrs. Jewett said, “His tumor needs to be donated. And here is someone who can help and do the research and find something more than say your child is going to die.”
When Dylan died, the Stanford Team had to act fast. They quickly harvested his brain tumor and extracted live cancer cells.
Then, for the first time in the world, scientists were able to coax the cancer cells from Dylan’s tumor to grow in the lab.
“Hopefully I think Dylan’s tumor is going to shed some light on some potential new therapies,” Monje said.
The team just published a groundbreaking study, in the Proceedings of the National Academies for Science, revealing one way the tumor may grow.
Dylan’s parents say one day his little brother Jayden will know.
“His life may have been short, but his memory is going to live on forever because of what we were able to do,” said Mrs. Jewett.
John Jewett added, that “It’s inspiring. I truly hope no other parent has to go through this in time again.”MORE NEWS: VIDEO: Wind-Whipped Dixie Fire Ignites Homes In Greenville; Fire Crews 'Going Into Life Threat Mode'
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