Pelotonia-Funded Research Sends 83-Year-Old Man Into Remission

Pelotonia Funded Research Sends 83 Year Old Man Into Remission

Burden “Brent” Brunthall, 83, of Seattle, Wash., learned he had stage 4 cancer of the carotid gland in 2010. After surgery to remove his salivary gland, followed by an aggressive radiation therapy regimen, doctors believed his cancer was in remission. Unfortunately, it showed up in his lymph nodes nine months later.

Brunthall knew from his original workup that his tumor was human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2) positive. With the help of his daughter – a gastrointestinal oncologist in the Seattle area – he immediately began searching for clinical trials and found an experimental HER-2 vaccine study led by Pravin Kaumaya, PhD, at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

Brunthall made the cross-country flight to the OSUCCC – James to determine his eligibility for the trial and received his first vaccination in June 2012. Since that time, his only cancer treatment has been the experimental vaccine. At the end of his fourth visit to Columbus in December 2013, his OSUCCC – James oncologist, Tanios Bekaii-Saab, MD, informed him he was in remission.

“When Dr. Saab told me my cancer cells had shrunk and I was in remission, to say the news was well beyond my expectations is an understatement,” Brunthall said. “Being part of this trial has given me hope – especially for others who will face cancer in the future. If my involvement in research can help others avoid some pretty horrible chemotherapy, I’ve done my part.”

Brent travels back to Columbus every six months for diagnostic testing and to receive his experimental vaccine. He’s happy to report that he’s experienced no noticeable side effects of treatment and he isn’t under any restrictions that impact his quality of life.

“A lot of times cancer hits people in the prime of their life. But if an old guy, 83 years old, can go into remission with a vaccine,” Brunthall says, “I think that is a pretty exciting statement about the strength of this research.”

The HER-2 vaccine study at the OSUCCC – James, funded in part by Pelotonia, targets two cell-surface receptors that help sustain many types of cancer and two specific regions of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2), a molecule that occurs at abnormally high levels in up to 30 percent of breast cancers.

To support cancer research like this study at the OSUCCC – James, ride, donate or volunteer for Pelotonia by visiting