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Clinical Trial Could Save 6-Year-Old Minn. Boy’s Life

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities family just got the approval to try a new drug that could save their little boy’s life. The new Pfizer drug could stabilize, even shrink a tumor in 6–year-old Gavin Pierson’s brain. Left untreated he could die.

This month, Pfizer agreed to let Pierson try the drug known as PD-991 and on Wednesday, the FDA also signed off.

At 6 years old, Pierson has big plans for his future.

“When I grow up, I’m going to be a marine biologist,” said Pierson, of Ramsey, Minn.

He’s a forward-thinking little boy, despite challenges in his past.

“I have a brain tumor,” he said.

Medically, it’s a germ cell teratoma, but Pierson has a much simpler term.

“Joe bully, because he’s bully,” he said.

A bully that doctors have tried to treat in five separate surgeries over seven months, but the tumor keeps growing.

“His tumor is so rare that they don’t have a fix for it. It has gotten to a point that the neurosurgeon thinks he can’t get all of it right now,” said Steve Pierson, his dad.

After each surgery, recovery takes a little longer. The latest surgery, in early January, sent Gavin into rehabilitation at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
Over the last two days, Steve has noticed great progress in Gavin’s everyday routine. Gavin’s staying awake longer and is more interactive with his parents when they visit.

“As long as he’s fighting, we’re going to fight and stay positive with him. All I ask, all we ask him to do is do his best and try,” said Steve.

Gavin’s parents believe they’ve found a way to give him a future after Pfizer approved the investigational therapy.

“That gives us a lot of chance, even if we can’t get it to shrink it stops it from growing, hopefully, until something else comes up to help us out,” said Steve.

Hope has kept this family strong, but more importantly, moving forward.

“He doesn’t want to stop he’s always trying. He’s carried our family through this,” said Steve.

It took quite an effort to get the initial approval from Pfizer. Thousands of friends and family signed a petition hoping to get approval for this investigative therapy.

Pfizer released the following statement:

At Pfizer, patients are our first priority. After conducting the required medical evaluations, in accordance with federal regulations and in collaboration with Gavin’s doctors, we are pleased to be able to support the request to provide PD-0332991 to Gavin.

PD-0332991 is an investigational compound and is not approved by regulatory authorities for use in the U.S. or globally. Pfizer is committed to providing assistance so that seriously ill patients who have exhausted other available options may, in accordance with applicable law and under the guidance of treating physicians, have access to our investigational therapies, if appropriate.

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