Friday, April 11, 2014
A lot of people have expressed curiosity about the new clinical trial I am participating in. It's definitely pretty interesting, so I would like to share what I know. Essentially, this drug is different than traditional chemos. Traditional chemotherapy goes after attacking the cancer for you. But it can be also more toxic to healthy cells as well. That's why there are such harsh side effects and why certain drugs have maximums. while they go after the bad guys, sometimes the good guys get whacked as collateral damage. So why is anti-PD-L1 different? Well, it probably makes sense to first explain what PD-L1 is in the first place, and then what the "anti" part is all about. PD-L1 is a protein that is found on the outside of tumor cells. It kind of acts like a protective coating. It renders the tumor cells somewhat invisible to the immune system. It was also described to me as a protein that puts the immune system killer cells to sleep when they come near it. The Anti-PD-L1 basically attaches to the tumor cells and flags it for the immune system, so it knows that the tumor is a bad guy and the killer cells should go after it. I described it to my husband as basically slathering up the tumor cells in barbeque sauce or something like that, making it more appetizing for the immune system. So the more PD-L1 you have in your cells, the more effective the anti-PD-L1 will be. As far as the regimen itself, it is given every other week through an infusion. Because it is not cyto-toxic, the side effects tend to be very mild. My experience is I feel a little funky, but nothing to write home about. It is definitely WAY better than chemo! From what I am hearing from people in the medical and pharmaceutical worlds, if the drug works on a person, it works incredibly well. They say results are rapid and durable. Certainly a good combo! In the land of advanced cancer, stable tumors are good news... In this new world, they are not only seeing stability, they are actually seeing tumor shrinkage. It has even taken some severely advanced cases right into remission! Pretty amazing! Like anything else, it doesn't work for everyone and it doesn't work on every kind of tumor cell. So now, we wait, and we pray that I am one of the lucky ones. It's in God's hands now.