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Brain Tumor Patient Dies After Ziopharm Gene Therapy Injection

A brain cancer patient died from bleeding in the skull soon after being injected with a Ziopharm Oncology (ZIOP) gene therapy directly into the brain tumor.

The Ziopharm patient, diagnosed with a recurrent brain tumor, was treated with the company's experimental gene therapy, known as Ad-RTS-hIL-12. The gene therapy, which is supposed to stimulate a tumor-killing immune response -- is injected directly into the patient's tumor. Fifteen days after the Ziopharm gene therapy injection, the patient died from an intracranial hemorrhage.

Ziopharm CEO Laurence Cooper first disclosed the patient death -- which occurred as part of an ongoing clinical trial -- during a presentation at a closed-door scientific workshop in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Cooper's presentation slides, which included a single bullet point about the patient death, were attached to an 8-K filed Thursday night with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ziopharm spokesman David Pitts confirmed the never-before-disclosed death but says the company does not believe the injection of Ad-RTS-hIL-12 into the patient's skull was responsible for the fatal bleeding episode.

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