I received an important phone call last week. Transplant coordinator from UT Southwestern says she is ready to move forward with my transplant. The only appointment they had was next Tuesday at 10:30 am, would I like to reserve that spot for my initial evaluation?
Oh yea! Finally, things are going to get cracking on the transplant front. The appointment will take about 2 – 2.5 hours to meet with all the differing parties, have blood drawn, and so forth.
My transplant doctor is Harris Naina MD. He specializes in lymphoma. I found out that UT also does research, so there is a chance I might be able to enter into some of the newer trials that are being sped through the oncology community.
Several cutting edge innovations are being fast tracked by the government and researchers. Why you might ask? Because they seldom cause problems, look extremely promising, and are one of the first big breakthroughs in many years against cancer.
One such trial, the CART19 trial, uses T-cells to attack B-cells. The idea is human white blood cells are grouped into differing branches of immunity and attack or protect in various ways. Some cells can “see” certain other cells, or not see certain cells. What if we could change one type of cell that is normally friendly (can’t see it as an enemy) and alter it to attack just one specific type of cell in our body?
Our T cells do not normally “see” the B cells since they are normally friends. Typically one branch of immunity wouldn’t attack another branch of immunity. My cancer, Burkitt’s, is a cancer specifically and only of the B cells (called a non-hodgkins B cell lymphoma). The B cells (my own white cells) are growing out of control rapidly. What if we could “make” one branch of our immunity (that isn’t sick) attack another branch of our immunity that is the problem? Manipulate and change one specific type of our own immune system (T-cells) so that they can “see” the B cells (which are the problem) and maybe the T cells could wipe out the B cells? That’s the basic idea of this trial. Not sure I would be a candidate for such a trial, but it holds promise.
So this week is a big one. Restaging of the cancer on Monday with a PET scan, and the initial transplant evaluation on Tuesday.
More to come!