A man with a deadly brain cancer went into remission after doctors dripped a treatment directly into his head, the Associated Press has reported.

The patient, 50-year-old Seattle resident Richard Grady, had a type of brain cancer that kept coming back after surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, according to the AP, so doctors at California cancer center City of Hope modified some of his own white blood cells to “turn them into specialized soldiers to seek and destroy cancer,” then put them directly into his brain. The process was described as the cells being “dripped through a tube into a space in the brain where spinal fluid is made, sending it down the [same] path the cancer traveled to his spine.”

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Although the treatment itself, a form of immunotherapy, has been used before on others with cancer, Grady was the first person to receive the treatment this way, and the tumors shrunk and then disappeared, the AP reported. “Grady was able to cut back on other medicines and return to work.”

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine describing the case, the man experienced few side effects and the remission of all his brain and spinal tumors continued for 7.5 months. The AP said that compares to typical survival periods of only weeks for that type of cancer, even though Grady is now fighting tumors in different places in his brain and spine, for which he is receiving radiation.

The new method is in its early stages and has only been tried on a few other patients but has potential to be used in other cancers that tend to metastasize, or spread, like breast and lung cancer, the AP explains.

Source: Badie B, Brown CE, Alizadeh D, et al. Regression of Glioblastoma after Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy. New England Journal of Medicine. 2016.

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