September 14, 2022

Meet Kenda

Kenda is a cheerful 9 year-old excited for a great year in 4th grade. With the help of Derek Hanson, M.D., Director of Pediatric Neuro-oncology, she has much to look forward to.  

In 2016, at the age of three, Kenda was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At the time, the family was living in Egypt.  She was treated with chemotherapy, and the tumor had appeared to have disappeared.

When the family moved to the United States in 2021, she began seeing Jessica Scerbo, M.D., Section Chief of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Hackensack Meridian K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore Medical Center. In September, Dr. Scerbo noted tumor progression and referred Kenda to her colleague Dr. Hanson at Hackensack Meridian Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center.

Kenda receives the medication mebendazole, a decades old anti-parasitic medication shown to decrease the size of certain neurological tumors.  It is Dr. Hanson’s hope that adding this experimental drug will treat the tumor more effectively.

Kenda’s mother Mennatallah speaks highly of Dr. Hanson and the team. “In the beginning, I was very nervous. Dr. Hanson explained all of our options. Kenda is now doing very well.  I trust him.  He is a wonderful doctor.”

“While the prognosis for low-grade gliomas is good, their effects can be devastating when they arise in delicate areas of the brain.  Very few new treatments have been developed for these tumors in the past two decades, and there is still a need for more effective, less toxic therapies. By repurposing an FDA-approved drug, we have been able to bring a promising therapy into the clinic quickly.  As an oral drug with few side effects, mebendazole has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for children undergoing treatment for low-grade gliomas,” explains Dr. Hanson.

The treatment is not without challenges. Kenda has lost vision in her right eye due to the tumor. However, she is a very happy, cheerful child.  She enjoys art, videos, nature, and playing with her younger sister.

The good news is that the treatment appears to be working.