My husband is participating in a clinical trial at NIH.  It’s a Phase 1, First in Human trial for kidney cancer.

Just prior to and after enrollment I think Ralph had every diagnostic test known to man.  Chest abdomen CT scan, CT/PET, EKG, chest x-ray, bone scan, Brain MRI, pulmonary function test, venous access assessment, echo-cardiogram, (2) cardiac MRI’s and a VQ.  I’ve lost count of the tubes of blood drawn. He was poked, prodded, examined and scanned. Through it all though, he was a pretty good sport.

This particular clinical trial is a gene transfer trial.  After all the diagnostic tests, the first step in the protocol was a collection of Ralph’s white blood cells.   This is a blood collection process called leukapheresis.  It’s all done thru a fancy machine, where the blood is cycled through the machine, the cells are separated, the white blood cells are collected and the rest is returned.

As you can see from the picture, it’s not a painful process – just a long 5 hour process.  We then had to wait about 4 weeks for the white blood cells to go to Loyola in Chicago and be genetically modified into super fighter T-cells.

Several days before the new modified T-cells are infused, they must make room by killing off existing T-cells through chemotherapy.  This was done over the past 3 days.  The only complication is fluid retention and oxygen issues related to chemotherapy & disease.  All of Ralph’s disease is in the chest, lungs & pericardium area.  The heart is impaired due to a tumor and prior radiation.  He is a complicated patient and its always a very delicate balance.  God bless Oncologists!

We have lived through the disappointment of numerous failed treatments.  However, we’re really excited about this opportunity and cutting-edge treatment for kidney cancer.

Good news!  The super T-cells are back and the next part begins!