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Brain Cancer Vaccine; Forensic Imaging; Visions of Greatness

Aired August 11, 2012 - 16:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Hello. And thanks for being with us.

Lots to get to today including new technology that can help you separate the real from the fake when it comes to photos and PhotoShopped magazine covers. It's remarkable technology. We want to see if you can spot the difference.

Also, we're going to meet the first ever blind Olympic athlete now helping visually impaired children to get in the game.

But first, a look at something I find fascinating under the microscope. A new vaccine used to treat brain cancer is showing promising results.


GUPTA (voice-over): It was back in March that Leila Valentine's husband first saw the signs. Leila chalked it up to being tired, having two small kids will do that. But her husband James insisted something wasn't right.

LEILA VALENTINE, CANCER PATIENT: So he was, you know, asking me questions and he goes, when is our kids' birthday? And I have no idea. And then he's like, no. Something is wrong. So he's like, no mother will forget their kids' birthday.

GUPTA: It turns out James' instincts were spot on. Leila's diagnosis? Glioblastoma, or GBM, it's the most common and most aggressive type of brain tumor.

DR. KEITH BLACK, NEUROSURGEON: It destroys our ability to see, our ability to speak, ability to move, remember. It destroys the very essence of who we are.

GUPTA: Like me, Dr. Keith Black is a neurosurgeon. He heads the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

BLACK: It can grow within a matter of weeks. If from the time of diagnosis to death, if one does not have any treatment, that time can be as short, you know, as two to three months.

GUPTA: Even with the best standard of care no one beats this. Most patients die within 12 to 15 months of diagnosis.

Leila was diagnosed with a left frontal glioblastoma, grade four. VALENTINE: Yes. So it's devastating but I have my two young kids and that I think about so that was it, so I'm like I'm going to do it for my kids, fight for my kids.

GUPTA: Leila was admitted to the hospital on March 7th, the very next day a surgeon, a member of Dr. Black's team, took out as much of the tumor as he could. Then came six weeks of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. After that, something new, an experimental treatment, a vaccine against cancer.

BLACK: One of the strongest defenses we have against disease is our immune system. One of the first things that a brain tumor has to do in order to survive in the brain is that it has to make itself invisible to the immune system.

GUPTA: The experimental drug isn't like a flu vaccine. It doesn't keep you from getting cancer. It uses cells from your own body to encourage your immune system to mount a targeted aggressive defense.

BLACK: We had 16 patients that were newly diagnosed with this glioblastoma multiform.

GUPTA: Typically without the vaccine, only 12 percent of patients would make it to the five-year mark. This small group, 16 patients, did more than three times better.

BLACK: All of the 16 patients, six of the 16 are alive and disease free, three of those six are alive and disease free out past five years.

GUPTA: We met two of those three patients, Mary Wong Lee and Michael Wolfe.

MARY WONG LEE, RECEIVED ICT 170 CANCER VACCINE: When I tried to spell for him I think he realized there was something not right.

MICHAEL WOLFE, RECEIVED ICT-170 CANCER VACCINE: Went to work with a bad headache, had a seizure at the office, collapsed on the floor, called the ambulance, got to the hospital within five minutes.

GUPTA: Mary is now cancer free. No evidence of disease. At five years.

Michael? Six.

Dr. Christopher Wheeler is a research scientist at the neurosurgical institute at Cedar Sinai.

DR. CHRISTOPHER WHEELER, RESEARCH SCIENTIST: We take blood from the patient and change them into, from kind of nondescript blood cells into highly specific immune cells which are really good at jump- starting the immune system.

GUPTA: The vaccine is injected into the patient's armpit. It migrates to the lymph nodes and activates T cells in the blood stream. The T cells then recalculate to the glioblastoma, and initiate a calculated response from the body's immune system, killing both the tumor cells and cancer stem cells.

BLACK: And what we've learned about cancer is that it really doesn't behave like a human colony. Cancer behaves more like a termite colony. So, you have the queen termite that keeps making the offspring much like trying to get rid of termites in your house. You want to kill the queen cell or the queen termite or the cancer stem cell.

GUPTA: In the next stage of Dr. Black's study, half the patients are receiving the vaccine. Half are getting a placebo, in addition to standard chemotherapy and radiation. Neither Leila nor the doctors know what group she's in. But she's optimistic.

VALENTINE: I can't get down or else, you know, I'll go down, too. So I have to stay confident. I feel really good. Thank God. I really do. Yes.


GUPTA: It's worth pointing out Dr. Black's vaccine isn't the only one out there. This general approach of ramping up the immune system in a targeted way is one of the most promising approaches to fighting cancer.

There's another brain cancer vaccine. It's known as CDX 110. It has also had promising results and is in phase three clinical trials. The last step before the FDA can consider whether it works and whether it's safe enough to make it widely available. We'll keep you posted on developments.

GUPTA: Up next, do you ever wonder which photos in magazines are PhotoShopped? I'm going to show you new technology that can help you detect a fake.



GUPTA (voice-over): In the magazine aisle, does it seem like the world is full of extremely beautiful people? Movie stars, actors, singers. If you're anything like me, you sometimes wonder what do these people look like in real life. It may come as no surprise but in a lot of cases, the photos are fake.

I recently met a man who will make you look at those covers in a whole new way. He created forensic imaging software to separate facts from fiction.

(on camera): Let me ask you, just generally speaking, how do you distinguish, I mean, extreme, you know, sort of touching up versus innocuous or minimal?

HANY FARID, PROFESSOR OF COMPUTER SCIENCE, DARMOUTH COLLEGE: Yes, you know, it's a gray area. I can tell you what is innocuous and minimal and I can tell you what is absolutely extreme. Those are easy to categorize. Everything in the middle is a little tricky. And so, that's why we sort of wanted to set out to build something that is very objective. If you legislate this or even try to control it internally as a publisher, it's fairly subjective. What one person may think is extreme is very different than another person. So, what we want to do is just actual vote basically. But you know, you can't do that practically. So, what the mathematics lets you do is effectively say this is what the average person will think.

That sort of takes away some of the subjection notion of this and I think it's more fair to the publisher and is more informative to the public.

GUPTA: So, what would it look like, you know, I was leafing through a magazine, I mean, the legislation goes through in this technology is in place?

FARID: Yes. So, think warning label on a cigarette pack. There would be a small box, small circle, something that's nicely engineered. That is a number between, say, one and five and the five means this person looks nothing like this in real life. One means this is a legitimate image and everything else in between is gradations.

GUPTA: Let's look at what you're talking about. The first one is an image of you.

FARID: Right.

GUPTA: And you've given yourself several trips to the gym.

FARID: I hit the gym pretty hard here. Yes. So I pumped myself up. This is not hard to do in any standard photo editing software.

And on the right what you se is the heat map tells you what has actually changed and by how much.

GUPTA: Bicep, there's --

FARID: Yes, the shoulders, the arms, the chest, the legs. And this is about a three on our scale. It is really, I looked quite different in terms of, now the face looks about the same, but the body actually looks quite different.

GUPTA: That's interesting. If that is a three, you do wonder what even higher numbers are.

But I think we have another one close up of I guess a woman who is a little bit older. She looks happy. She is attractive. What happened here?

FARID: Right. This is a great photo of (INAUDIBLE) coauthor in this work made. So the original is on the right and the other is on the left. This is done in most fashion magazines and advertisements, which is you remove all wrinkles, blemishes over the face. You can see he did a very good job on this -- a really good rendition. This is a little bit over a three. The reason why it's not a four or a five is because if you look at the structure of her face, it's basically the same. It hasn't been thinned. It hasn't been expanded. The eyes are about the same size. The mouth, nose are all the same.

So, really, you can see that we leave room for the really much more extreme which tells you there are much more extreme versions of this.


GUPTA: Well, the magazine industry has long been split on the subject of retouching photos. But "Seventeen" magazine took a big step and recently said it's never going to change girls' bodies or face shapes in photos and will only include images of real girls and models who are healthy. It's quite extraordinary and the announcement is thanks to a 14-year-old girl named Julia Bluhm who started this petition urging the magazine to change.

And we're delighted to have her on the show and now she joins us from Maine.

Thanks for joining us, Julia.


GUPTA: Yes, I want to congratulate you first off on being such an influential voice. You're so young, just 14 years old but obviously passionate about this issue. My understanding is you started this petition after hearing your friends -- essentially complain about how they look during ballet lessons.

Tell me about that. How did this start for you?

BLUHM: Well, I definitely heard it from my friends. My friends weren't very happy with how they looked I guess. And I blog for an organization called SPARK Summit and we were trying to figure out why that was. I think it's from the media and the PhotoShop that's used in the media because girls try to compare themselves to images that are impossible to be like.

GUPTA: You know, I work in the media as you know, and I'm really interested in this issue and also the fact that you were able to get a major publication to change their policy. What was it like? I mean, was that a tough battle? I mean, how did it go back and forth?

BLUHM: Well, at the very end of April, I went to New York and we held a mock photo shoot in front of "Seventeen" and they invited us to go up there and meet with Ann Shoket. That was when we first -- like when they first started listening to us and we met with Ann Shoket for about an hour and talked about how important it is to feature real girls in their magazine. They agreed with us. They said they'd get in touch with us.

For a while they -- we weren't in touch with them for a while, but then when we found they had published a page in their magazine talking about the issue PhotoShop, and saying that they are not going to photo shop it was really exciting.

GUPTA: You're so eloquent, I should say, as a 14-year-old. I have young gals myself and they could be a good model for them. Thanks so much, Julia, for being on our program.

BLUHM: Thank you.

GUPTA: OK. Take care. Coming up, we're going to check in with Tiffany Burke. Remember her? She is the one who decided to have a baby for her brother and sister-in-law. It's a remarkable story. They've got big news to share.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: This summer we introduced you to a remarkable family story. Take a look at this image here.

You've got Natalie and her husband James. Then James' sister Tiffany and her husband Sean. What's remarkable in all this is that Tiffany is carrying a baby for Natalie and James. Again, James is her brother.

When we met they had just found out Tiffany was pregnant with twins. She's 20 weeks along now and they just got some pretty exciting news.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, we are here for ultrasound to find out what is in this belly. We're going to find out if we're having a boy or girl, two girls, two boys.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found out. What do you think?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two boys. I need your help with the ball games.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything looking good still?

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Yes. Real healthy.


GUPTA: James is a little speech les there in that video. Joining us now is Natalie, James, Tiffany, and Sean. Two boys. As a father of three girls I got to say, wow. That is quite something. You know, guys, we had a chance to talk a few times in the past.

Natalie, let me start with you. You've obviously had some time to digest the fact that you're going to have three boys in the house. What was it like for you when you found that out and also again that Tiffany is carrying those boys for you?

NATALIE LUCICH, BIOLOGICAL MOM: This was kind of what I thought we were going to have. I was so excited. Basically we have our own sports team at home. I think Hunter is going to be a great big brother. You know, they're all going to be so close. We're so excited for that.

GUPTA: I can only imagine. I think for all of you there has to be a feeling of this is really settling in.

James, you're preparing for baseball games. I mean, when you hear this, has a weight been lifted off your shoulders and you have the news of this growing, healthy family despite the fact that Natalie was not able to carry?

JAMES LUCICH, NATALIE'S HUSBAND: Yes. In that aspect, yes. It has been a huge weight on her shoulders. But just so excited to know that our family is going to get bigger and to -- they're so healthy and it's just so exciting.

GUPTA: Yes. And, Tiffany, I think the last time we spoke, you were having pretty significant morning sickness. How is that going for you? How has the pregnancy been over all?

TIFFANY BURKE, SURROGATE MOTHER: Well, we've been really lucky with the pregnancy over all because the boys are growing just honestly perfectly, how they should be. They're really strong and healthy and they're within a couple days of each other growth wise. I'm still sick -- but I just keep telling myself it's not permanent. You know, the worst case scenario I go to nine months and the best case scenario maybe I'm done tomorrow or so. You just never know I guess.

GUPTA: Sean, you've been through this before as well. I mean, you know, with Tiffany being pregnant. I mean, how is this different for you emotionally? Do you think about it differently?

SEAN BURKE, TIFFANY'S HUSBAND: You know, I really don't. That's been asked a lot from friends and family. It's -- all I really care about right now is her well being, and my two boys, raising them correctly. But I don't think anything emotionally too much about the fact that, you know, these babies are going to be going to James and Natalie because they're still going to be in our lives down the road. So, yes.

GUPTA: And you guys obviously are very close and all the more close for what you're going through right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. GUPTA: We're going to keep checking in. This is a remarkable story with so much feedback from our viewers about all of you. So, thanks for sharing.

J. LUCICH: Thank you.

S. BURKE: Thank you.

T. BURKE: Thank you.

GUPTA: And up next, a loss of sight but never a loss of vision. We'll take you to a summer camp for blind children who want to play competitive sports.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Camp Abilities.

GUPTA (voice-over): Every day at Camp Abilities starts the same way, with care to share.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have seven more shots on the basketball court last night, including three in a row.


UNIDENTIFIED KID: I ran three miles on the (INAUDIBLE) bike.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did my first back flip on the rings at gymnastics.


GUPTA: All these children are visually impaired. And they've come to Camp Abilities for a one-week developmental sports camp. Their inspiration this year is Marla Runyan who was diagnosed with Stargardt disease. It's a form of juvenile onset macular degeneration. She was diagnosed when she was just nine years old.

MARLA RUNYAN, DIAGNOSED WITH STARGARDT'S DISEASE AT AGE 9: We all know, for everybody whether sighted or not, you know, physical exercise activities, sports, think about what a role that plays in your life. Running became my choice of sport after I kind of abandoned soccer and I had such trouble seeing the ball, obviously, so I went out for my high school track team.

GUPTA: And boy could Runyan run. After running track and field in high school and college, she turned pro, eventually becoming the first legally-blind athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. Runyan says she was able to reach her full potential by competing against the best athletes in the world.

And now she's giving these campers their first taste of competitive sports.

RUNYAN: Camp Abilities to me is all about empowering kids and teaching them what they can do and giving them opportunities that they are not otherwise available to them at public school or after school programs.

GUPTA: And there's a lot to choose from -- sports like beat baseball, goal ball. They learn to ride bikes, practice judo, and of course run track.

RUNYAN: When my vision changed, but my desire to be in sports never changed. So I just stuck with it.

GUPTA: Just like the camp's mantra says. A loss of sight doesn't have to mean a loss of vision.

RUNYAN: Our motto for Camp Abilities is believe you can.

KIDS: I believe.


GUPTA: "Chasing Life" today. More Olympic inspiration. I think you're going to like this. Older athletes., here is a picture that caught my eye.

Bulgarian gymnast Yordan Yochev. He's 39 years old. This is his sixth Olympics. Keep in mind, this is a young man's game and he's twice the age of most of his rivals but he still finished eighth on the rings out of 68 competitors.

And at 39, he is just a kid to some of the other Olympians like Anne van Olst from Denmark. She is 50.

And Joan Tomas Roca from Andorra, a trap shooter. He's 57.

Then we have the oldest athlete in the games. Hiroshi Hoketsu, an equestrian rider from Japan is 71 years old. Guess what? Back home they call him the hope for old men. I love that.

We can't all be world class athletes but if you do exercise you can maintain strength, endurance, and skill well into middle age and far beyond as you just saw.

That's going to wraps things up for SGMD. Stay connected with me at, let's keep the conversation going on Twitter @SanjayGuptaCNN.

Time now to get you a check of your top stories in "THE CNN NEWSROOM".