Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mixed Results

I'm through with the rituximab infusions that have accompanied the CAL-101 daily pills (150 mg twice a day).

CAL-101 pushed many CLL cells out of the lymph nodes and into the blood. My WBC which has been hovering around 2.1 after a disastrous bout with FCR, went up to about 47,000. It has dropped to 24,000, where it has stubbornly stayed.

I've also had increasing fatigue and a few bouts of day sweats, both of which I associate with CLL progression.

We know that CAL-101 is not a cure. A recent paper that will be presented at ASCO paints a dismal picture of the drug, with only a 33% response rate. It shows that many people drop out of the trial after disease progression. And lymph nodes decreased by only 50%, which means that CLL, which grows primarily in the nodes, is still present in large numbers.

It may be that drug resistance to CAL-101 is more common than we had all hoped.

We are all hoping for a solid treatment that is easy to tolerate and keeps the CLL at bay, if not curing the terrible disease.

As it stands now, it doesn't look as though CAL-101 will be that drug, at least in the population of heavily pre-treated patients such as myself. Perhaps it will do better in untreated patients.

I must admit that it will be great if it works extremely well in untreated patients, but not well in others. It would be bittersweet for us who have been through the mill with CLL.

I've often wondered about the elation of CML patients (chronic myeloid leukemia) who saw the miracle treatment of Gleevic and related drugs, but failed to respond themselves. The elation, and then the crushing disappointment must have been terrible for them.

For now, my lymph nodes seem stable.

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