8-year-old boy with inoperable brain tumor will be the first in the UK to try an experimental treatment

An eight-year-old boy who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor will become the first person in Britain to undergo trials for a rare cancer treatment in the US. Rudy Abbott was diagnosed with grade four pineoblastoma in August 2020 after suffering from severe headache, fatigue and pain in his leg.

Rare and aggressive cancer accounts for one in all brain tumours, according to Cancer Research UK. Rudy underwent two 10-hour surgeries to try to remove the tumor—which was the size of a small avocado—but the doctor could only get rid of 70 percent of the mass.

He was then given four months of intense chemotherapy at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, Edinburgh, as well as six weeks of proton therapy in Germany. The treatment initially proved successful – but an MRI scan in February of this year showed the tumor had returned.

In April Rudy from Portobello, Edinburgh, was accepted into Seattle for a pilot program of immunotherapy that his family hoped would slow tumor growth. His desperate parents Ben Abbott, 46, and Colin Heinault, 43, are fundraising for the treatment, which cost £250,000, and have raised nearly £101,000 so far.

Dad Ben said Rudy will be the first to receive CAR-T treatment from the UK. This will see medics remove Rudy’s T-cells, replace them to fight cancer, and then inject them directly into his brain. Next month, Rudy will move to Seattle with dad Ben and his partner Mary Ramage, 39, as well as his mother and sister Iris of three years.

Dad-of-four Ben said: “We’re going to Seattle at the end of July to start the trial. It’s not a cure, but we hope it will slow the growth of the tumor.

“The test is £250,000 and we estimate that for two months of travel, flights and places of stay, it will cost around £30,000. Rudy will be treated every day for a month and hopefully we will return once a month after that. Will go.”

Restaurant owner Ben feared his son would not be accepted into trial after complications with US health insurance. But the 11-hour doctors said that Rudy could turn out to be a pilot case.

Ben said: “At Rudy’s scans in February this year we were told the tumor had come back. They said there was nothing more they could do for her and she didn’t have months, years to live.

“I went into complete depression when we found out I couldn’t get out of bed. Then my cousin in the States said there was a promising test in Seattle that we might be able to get.

“When the trial started two years ago they were taking international patients. But because you have to be there every day for two months for treatment and then return once a month, they were no longer taking international patients.

Rudy Abbott with his family at a bell ceremony
(Image credit: Ben Abbott / SWNSC)

“We talked to doctors, but they said that Rudy was medically viable, and they thought he was fit, they couldn’t take people outside of the US. He said if we could get US health insurance. They would be able to accept Rudy, but it didn’t look like that would be possible.

“At the 11th hour we had a Skype call with him and he said that Rudy could have a pilot case if we were able to fund it ourselves. It was a eureka moment for us and it meant that Rudy was on trial from the UK. Be the first to join.

Rudy is on a ketogenic diet to try to reduce the amount of glucose in his body, which dad Ben said can make cancer grow rapidly. The high-fat, high-protein, no-sugar diet means Rudy can’t have the sweets she’s struggled with before — but Ben says she’s still his fun-loving, outgoing self.

Ben said: “We’re trying a lot of different things and hope that combined they will have a dramatic effect. He struggled not to eat sweets at first, but he’s doing well and he’s on his own.” Enjoy the foods you eat.

“He was in school until two weeks ago but the chemo effects make it difficult for him to go and get very tired. He’s a genuinely outgoing, fun-loving kid who is always the heart of the party – and he still is that person. Cancer hasn’t staged him, he has driven us all through this, he just does everything and barely moans. ,

to donate Go to Fundraising Page,

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