Stiff Neck Leads to Brain Tumor Diagnosis and Treatment

Michael Brod, 75, from Westhampton Beach, NY to participate in investigational research study for glioblastoma brain tumor.

Michael Brod, 75, a renowned real estate agent from Westhampton Beach, NY, is grateful to Northwell Health’s Brain Tumor Centers, for the diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan for a malignant primary brain tumor, a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

 During the first week of July, Mr. Brod experienced a stiff neck.  He went to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, NY, a member of Northwell Health, where he underwent computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which revealed a large brain mass.   Mr. Brod’s sister-in-law referred him to John Boockvar, MD, director of the Brain Tumor Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, another member of Northwell Health.  After reviewing Mr. Brod’s medical history, it was learned that Mr. Brod was diagnosed over forty years ago with a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a tangle of abnormal blood vessels.  Dr. Boockvar needed to determine if the brain mass was an AVM or a brain tumor.  After MRI confirmed that it was a GBM, Dr. Boockvar recommended immediate surgery and on July 5th, he performed a complete resection. 

 “Once the tumor was removed, we had it genetically characterized by whole genome sequencing in collaboration with Rockefeller University and the New York Genome Center,” said Dr. Boockvar.  “This clinical trial is designed to identify potential targets in GBM to improve therapy.”

After surgery, Dr. Boockvar referred Mr. Brod to Alexis Demopoulos, MD, director of neuro-oncology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY, another member of Northwell Health. A comprehensive, post-surgical treatment plan was developed including six weeks of chemotherapy. For radiation treatment, Mr. Brod was referred to Jonathan Knisely, MD, Northwell Health’s co-director for radiosurgery and stereotactic radiation therapy, who will treat Mr. Brod with six weeks of focal, conformal radiation therapy that will be coordinated with Dr. Demopoulos’ chemotherapy treatments.  These treatments began in August.

“I am a very detail-oriented person and the fact that Dr. Boockvar was so thorough in his explanation about my diagnosis and treatment, my whole family was fully engaged in what was going to happen,” said Mr. Brod.  “Dr. Boockvar is everything you would want in a surgeon.  His guidance and referrals to Dr. Demopoulos and Dr. Knisely made this long road ahead of me, that much easier.”

 Dr. Boockvar and the neuro-oncology team determined that Mr. Brod was potentially an ideal candidate for the international Phase III research study to test the efficacy of an investigational drug, ICT-107.  The study -- sponsored by ImmunoCellular Therapeutics, Ltd -- is designed to test whether dendritic cell immunotherapy can prevent brain tumor recurrences.

“Even with traditional treatments, glioblastomas often recur,” said Michael Schulder, MD, principal investigator of the ICT study at Northwell Health and director of the Brain Tumor Center at Northwell Health’s Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset, NY. “The purpose of this research study is to determine whether adding the investigational drug ICT-107 helps to prevent brain tumors from coming back in newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients who have already undergone surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.  The study will also look to see if it will help patients live longer compared to standard treatment alone.”

The research study is a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial, so while participants receive either the drug or a placebo, neither the doctor nor the patient will know until the study is completed.  The study consists of four time periods – standard radiation and chemotherapy for 6-week post-surgery, five days a week, followed by a rest period of no more than 14 days where subjects are reassessed for eligibility.  After the rest period, a 4-week induction phase where participants receive one injection of study drug, once a week for four weeks.  The last period of the study is called the maintenance phase, 11 months in duration, of which participants receive one monthly injection.  Study participants are followed for survival until study completion, estimated to be up to five years or longer.

Mr. Brod is considered fortunate to be eligible for this clinical trial, as only 25-30% of glioblastoma patients qualify to participate.

 “I am very hopeful that participating in this clinical trial will help me and others afflicted with the same condition,” said Mr. Brod.  “My new mantra is one day at a time.”

For more information about the study or to see if you are eligible, call the Brain Tumor Center at Northwell Health’s Neuroscience Institute at 844-566-3876.  For more information about Lenox Hill Hospital’s Brain Tumor Center, call 212-434-3900.


Michelle Pipia-Stiles 
[email protected]