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Cruising With Campath...

Posted by Frederick Wasti
Aug 27 2012

Well, soon (on this Friday, August 31st) I will have completed the second 4-week cycle of Part B of my clinical trial, and I'm "cruising" along (if commuting in and out of Boston three times a week, to get inspected and injected at Dana-Farber, can be called "cruising" - <grin>). Noticeable side effects have generally been minor, and, except for the hives that I developed once, back in Week 2 of Part B Cycle 1, they have been pretty easy to tolerate.

Of course, I'm still taking a lot of medications to keep me on an even keel. Besides the Alemtuzumab (trade name Campath) and Ofatumumab (trade name Arzerra) (and the pre-medications of Methylprednisolone, Tylenol, and Benadryl) that I receive at D-F, I also take a bunch of meds when I'm back at home, too: Each day I still have to inject myself with Fondaparinux (an anticoagulant), and take, as daily pills, Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim (an antibacterial drug), Voriconazole (an antifungal), Acyclovir (an antiviral), and Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Tylenol (the latter three to guard against any more hives from the Alemtuzumab).

So basically, each time I visit D-F, I receive one or two anti-CLL monoclonal antibodies, preceded by some pre-meds (to help tolerate those drugs), but it doesn't stop there - every day I also take another bunch of meds (some in the AM, some in the PM), to help cope with either the direct effects or the side-effects of D-F's "main drugs".

Yeah, I'm "cruising"... (<grin>)

However, the overall results have been very positive. I am not cured (of course - that would be highly unlikely to ever occur with CLL), but my leukemia has been beaten down greatly. Still, lately it does sometimes seem as if my blood test results have become rather static and maybe even almost "boring", but, if I were told last spring that, by summer, I would have less than 1% lymphocytes (and that the proportion of leukemic lymphocytes maybe would also have decreased), I would have been quite skeptical.

OK, to the graphs: Here's the latest showing how the percentages of neutrophils and lymphocytes in my blood have changed throughout the trial...

...and it confirms that neutrophils continue to overwhelmingly predominate among the white cells in my blood, and that lymphocytes (both the good and the bad) have been almost wiped out. (Remember, though, that graphs such as this cannot show other important changes that might - hopefully - still be occurring in my bone marrow - but I am scheduled for another bone marrow biopsy in about a month or so, which might shed some light on whether there will have been a further decrease in leukemia within the marrow.)

OK - just a couple additional graphs: An interesting comparison can be made between my total white cells during the trial...

...and the absolute number of lymphocytes during the same time period:

The above two curves are remarkably quite similar. Of course, considering that lymphocytes had been overwhelmingly the most common of my leukocyte types before treatment began, and considering that the drugs that I've been given are supposed to have their greatest effect on lymphocytes, the similarity is not particularly surprising. But it's still interesting. And it's certainly still gratifying. (<smile>)

Categories: Leukemia