Bella’s Breakthrough

(WSVN) - The legacy of a South Florida girl is helping lead the mission to save lives. 7’s Lynn Martinez shows us how Bella’s breakthrough may be the next step to curing childhood cancer.

This tiny vial is part of a breakthrough treatment.

It was once filled with a drug called “BIO-11006.”

This drug is still in the testing phase, but it could lead to a cure for cancer … thanks to a little South Florida girl named Bella.

Raymond Rodriguez-Torres, Bella’s father: “She was very mischievous, she loved jokes, but she was very innocent.”

Ten-year-old Bella Rodriguez-Torres suffered from a cancerous brain tumor before passing away in 2013.

Her death prompted her family to create the Live Like Bella Foundation to fund childhood cancer research.

Raymond Rodriguez-Torres: “Over the last 26 years, there have only been three drugs approved for childhood cancer, compared to hundreds for adults.”

Bella’s parents learned of a lab in North Carolina that was developing a drug to treat adult lung cancer. They asked to send in samples of Bella’s tumor to see if the drug could possibly kill it.

The results surprised the entire family…

Raymond Rodriguez-Torres: “My wife, my daughter and I heard the words, ‘It worked,’ and it worked incredibly.”

A little girl in Philadelphia was chosen to receive the first test treatment of BIO-11006.

She was left paralyzed by cancer. Now, she can walk.

Dr. Ziad Khatib, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital: “It’s a compound that seems to affect the way cancer cells grow and spread.”

The drug will get its next test right here in Miami at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

A South Florida boy with a brain tumor is expected to get the treatment in the next few months.

And his doctor is excited about it.

Dr. Ziad Khatib: “At this point, it seems to be a very safe drug, very little side effects and no injections.”

If the drug works, researchers will use the results to request a bigger clinical trial with more patients.

Bella’s father says their goal is to give every child with cancer the chance to grow up.

Raymond Rodriguez-Torres: “I know that the next time I see Bella’s smile will be in heaven, and she will be well pleased with what we did to help her friends here on earth.”

Lynn Martinez, 7News.

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