LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Las Vegas local is the first patient in the world to try a new cancer treatment.
Ruben Solis, 54, is a father, grandfather, and hospitality worker in Las Vegas. He’s also battling Stage 4 laryngeal cancer.
In 2019, Ruben was treated with chemotherapy and radiation, but his cancer is recurring.
The tumor in his throat recently grew to the size of a football. He got an emergency tracheotomy to open his airways. That made him eligible to be what doctors call a “global initiator.”
He’s the first in the world to try new immunotherapy.
“All the stars align, his immune system fit, he was able to breathe, he was able to function,” said Dr. Anthony Nguyen, Oncologist at Comprehensive Cancer Centers’ Southeast Henderson Treatment Center.
Nguyen says they use two medications called Enoblituzumab and Retifanlimab in a new form of immunotherapy that boosts the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. He also says this is a customized treatment rather than a ‘one size fits all’ like chemotherapy.
“We’re using Ruben's own defenses, his own army, turning them on with medicines to turn on his own army to fight cancer from inside, instead of dropping grenades and bombs from the outside… that’s what we would think of chemotherapy,” Nguyen added.
Not only is it exciting that Solis is responding well to the therapy, but Nguyen also says it's a big deal that the trial is happening in Las Vegas.
“There are big universities in the entire United States that have access to this medication… and Las Vegas… we got him, we got him on board! It’s monumental,” Nguyen said.
If the clinical trials are successful, eventually they could be approved by the FDA for more patients to use in the future.
The trial started in March and is expected to be done by 2024.