Clinical trial of new combination immunotherapy drug helps patient fight liver cancer


When Stephen Warnock, 62, was diagnosed with liver cancer in the spring of 2018, he didn’t really have much hope. The cancer was advanced and the radiation treatment didn’t do much to shrink his tumor. By the end of summer, he was told there wasn't much left that could be done for him given it had grown significantly and was now invading the blood vessels.

Image of cancer survivor Stephen Warnock
Stephen Warnock

That’s when he decided to take the two-hour trek from Bakersfield, California, to the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center for a second opinion, the same place that saved his dad’s life when he was battling bone cancer.

He immediately met with Dr. Finn, who helped him enroll in a combination immunotherapy drug clinical trial for people with hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer. (Read more about Dr. Finn's pioneering research.)

“I didn’t have hope until I went to UCLA,” said Warnock, father to twin daughters and retired construction worker. “They made me feel like I had a chance. I was really lucky to get on this trial.”

Since Warnock enrolled in the clinical trial in September of 2018, his tumor has not progressed and his disease has been stabilized. Warnock is still part of the clinical trial and comes to UCLA for treatment every three weeks.

“I feel so fortunate that I got to start this trial. The therapy is working and I’m so grateful because there’s not very many treatment options for my disease.”

By Denise Heady, 2020