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Forrest General first in state to use new compound to illuminate brain tumors

Forrest General became the first hospital in Mississippi to use Gleolan™ (aminolevulinic acid HCl) for enhanced visualization of high-grade gliomas (including glioblastomas), or tumors occurring in the glial cells of the brain. This solution causes tumor cells to glow red under blue light allowing the neurosurgeon to remove as much of the tumor as possible without affecting healthy brain cells.

Gleolan causes tumor cells to glow red under blue light allowing the neurosurgeon to remove as much of the tumor as possible without affecting healthy brain cells.

“The great genius of this compound is that it allows me to know when I’ve removed all of the gross tumor. With these kinds of brain tumors, we’re not curing the patients with surgery, but there is compelling data that patient outcomes are better the more of the tumor you get out. So as a surgeon, I can be as aggressive as possible in terms of getting the tumor out, while avoiding causing major problems. Some organs, like the liver, can still function if half of the organ is removed to get rid of a tumor. The brain does not work that way, so we have to preserve as much functioning brain as possible,” said Richard Clatterbuck, MD, PhD, neurosurgeon, Forrest General/Hattiesburg Clinic.

Gleolan is a lyophilized powder, which is reconstituted with drinking water and administered orally to the patient. The brain selectively absorbs the gleolan into cells where the normal barrier has failed. Once the solution is taken in to the tumor, the tumor breaks it down into a second compound called protoporphyrin IX (PpIX). The surgeon then applies the blue light and views the brain using the appropriate filters, which cause the cells containing the compound to turn bright red and stand out against the blue background.

Richard E. Clatterbuck, M.D.

Gleolan is only FDA approved for use in high-grade brain malignancies – grade 3 and grade 4 primary brain tumor resections. According to a press release from NX Development Corp. (NXDC), “There are 4 grades of glioma, with Grades III and IV being the most aggressive. Glioblastoma, a type of Grade IV glioma, has the highest incidence of mortality with the potential to spread rapidly.”

“As an organization, Forrest General believes patients in Mississippi should have access to the same benefits as people anywhere else in the world. That’s why we always strive to offer the latest technologies when they benefit our patients. It’s really a matter of trying to do the right thing for the people who trust us with their health,” said Clatterbuck.

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