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A new promising cancer drug may have saved this 9-year-old’s life and holds promise for thousands more

A cancer drug newly approved by the FDA could help thousands of people every year and it's already giving hope to a family who thought they were out of options for their 9-year-old son. At age 5, Ashton Leeds was diagnosed with stage 4 thyroid cancer. After his cancer became resistant to treatment, Ashton joined a trial for a cutting-edge drug called larotrectinib that targets a specific genetic mutation found in certain kinds of cancers.

A cancer drug newly approved by the FDA could help thousands of people every year and it's already giving hope to a family who thought they were out of options for their 9-year-old son. At age 5, Ashton Leeds was diagnosed with stage 4 thyroid cancer. After his cancer became resistant to treatment, Ashton joined a trial for a cutting-edge drug called larotrectinib that targets a specific genetic mutation found in certain kinds of cancers. The Leeds family drove 700 miles from their home in Alberta, Canada, to Seattle Children's for the treatment. The results for Ashton showed that his health vastly improved. "Traditional chemotherapy for cancer targets the machinery in cells that helps them divide and larotrectinib actually specifically targets a change in the DNA of the tumor cells for the specific cancer types," said Dr. Katie Albert, a pediatric oncologist at Seattle Children's. "So, it should only really be affecting the tumor cells and not normal cells."

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