after a yearlong fight against the deadliest form of brain tumor. It is rare, with only about 20,000 cases in the US every year. It's the same kind of aggressive cancer that challenged the life of his colleague and friend Ted Kennedy in the Senate in 2009.
can be very difficult to treat and healing is often not possible. Researchers are working to develop new treatment options, and a therapy is currently being tested on dogs with a dog's version of the cancer.
Researchers at the Virginia-Maryland Veterinary College at Virginia Tech are enrolling dogs with glioblastoma in a clinical trial to test the experimental drug.
Laura Kamienski's dog Emily is one of the participants. Kamienski was devastated when Emily, a 1
"I was sobbing, sitting in the middle of the exam room and sobbing," she told CBS News.
Treatment options are very limited for dogs, but the clinical study at Virginia Tech gave her hope.
"I said I'll do anything," she said.
The drug is injected directly into the tumor, specifically targeting the cancer while leaving healthy brain tissue undamaged.
"We observe the entire treatment on the MRI", dr. John Rossmeisl, Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Virginia Tech, told CBS News. "So we can see how the drug covers the tumor, and we know we've reached the treatment goals of targeting all cancer cells."
The researchers say the results are so promising that the National Institutes of Health now finance the process and hope that it could eventually lead to a breakthrough in humans.
Six weeks have passed since Emily's first treatment and Kamienski said she did not have a seizure.
"She is herself," she said.
And MRI scans show that Emily's tumors are shrinking.
"The black spot means the tumor is dying, we want to see that," said Rossmeisl. "The only way it could have been better if it was completely gone is really good news."
Kamienski is grateful for more time with her beloved dog.
"It's not a cure, I knew I would go in," she said. "That's the best hope – to give her more time."
If the experiment fails, the treating physicians who are now learning in dogs will one day hope that humans will try to defeat this cancer.  [H/T CBS News]