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New Mexico brain cancer treatment could be used on John McCain

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., pauses before speaking to reporters during a meeting of the National Defense Authorization Act conferees, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

PHOENIX — A brain cancer treatment being developed by the University of New Mexico could be used to treat Sen. John McCain, who was diagnosed with glioblastoma in July.

The Albuquerque Journal reported the new treatment was in clinical testing.

The New Mexico drug, BXQ-350, was designed to induce cancer cells to die but leave nearby regular cells alone. The drug was in the first phase of testing, meaning researchers were studying how safe the drug would be for people and how it would affect the body.

However, McCain would likely only seek out the treatment should more conventional means come up short.

McCain spokeswoman Julie Tarallo said Thursday the senator has no new announcement about his treatment and is getting excellent care at the National Institutes of Health. He previously was treated at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.

The senator was diagnosed with the aggressive cancer in July and had been getting treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale.

Dr. Cheryl Willman, CEO of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, told a business group that McCain’s doctors contacted the school about enrolling the senator in the trials.

“The key is, if he needs this treatment and he can qualify, which we are working on, we are more than happy to support him on his journey,” she told the Journal.

In September, McCain told “60 Minutes” that his prognosis was “very, very serious.”

“Some say 3 percent, some say 14 percent. It’s a very poor prognosis. So, I just said, ‘I understand, now we’re going to do what we can, get the best doctors we can find, and do the best we can.’ And, at the same time, celebrate with gratitude a life well-lived.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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