In keeping with the MD Anderson fiasco-way of doing business, Dr. Kurzrock was roughly two hours late for Maggie’s 11:00AM appointment. And, of course, she came with her clipboard touting entourage. They dialed me in via speaker so I could virtually participate in the discussion. Here’s my report.
Dr. Kurzrock was unimpressed with how the current treatment was progressing. In fact, she opened the discussion with a clearly guarded “how are you feeling?” expecting a different response, I suspect, than Maggie offered (“I feel much better than last time!”) She said that the liver situation was still of great concern and while some tumors had decreased in size, others had increased. She said she believed that a new treatment would be a better choice.
The treatment she has recommended, and we subsequently signed up for, is titled “Administration of BIIB028 to Subjects With Solid Tumors.” It’s a very small Phase I trial with only about eight people currently enrolled. Yessir, this stuff is hot out of the lab. The juice doesn’t get much fresher than this.
The drug with the memorable name BIIB028 is yet another of the new, targeted types of chemo, much like three other drugs we’ve received previously: Avastin, Erbitux, Vectibix. This is all part of the brave new world we’re living in today thanks in part to all the hard work of the Human Genome Project. Next time someone donates their body to science, make sure to give them a post-humus slap on the back (but not too hard, depending on how long ago they, uh, donated.)
BIIB028 is a type of drug called a HSP90 inhibitor. And stuff just gets deep from here. Basically, think of the tumors as tables for of hungry people (cells) in a restaurant. HSP90 would be the waiters that bring the tables the food (protein.) BIIB028 kills off the waiters causing the tables to go without food and, hopefully leave without tipping. Or better, die. If you want a more learned description, for those smart-um folks in Dr. Carrie’s class, check it out here for the best I can find. If anyone can find better, I’d love to learn more.
The kick-in-the-pants, at least for us, is that the study requires a visit to MD Anderson twice a week. Yikes. And, no, they can’t/won’t let us take it somewhere in Austin because of blah, blah, blah, procedures, and blah, blah, blah, regulations. So, yeah, twice a week to Houston for the next six weeks…
Here are the good things about this treatment:
- The only noted side effect has been slight nausea the day of treatment. No big-time, days-long yuck like the others. The first time she’ll stay the night in Houston just in case we discover a new side-effect.
- No overnight stays. Just do the deed and come home.
- I’d assume that hair-loss is not an issue since this is targeted treatment.
- No surgery like she’s been getting and, best of all, no miserable five day hospital stay every three weeks
Her first appointment is scheduled for January 12. She’ll need to be at the hospital all day and stay the night in Houston for this first treatment. The trial coordinator said to expect a pretty long day (as if we’ve had any SHORT days at MD Anderson!) I almost snorted into the phone.
We’ll get new scans to see if the treatment is working in six weeks, just in time for our fifth wedding anniversary. Boy, what a great gift we could get!