I just wanted to give an update on this promising phase I trial I'm just starting in Nashville (Sarah Cannon).
Bottom line - it's extremely hopeful, drug companies are falling over themselves getting similar drugs going on different cancers, their share prices are going up, and everyone involved is very optimistic. However, it's still in very early development, and I doubt it will be widely available in trials for a number of months yet (but who knows?). You can see the earlier post in this thread of mine describing these ADC (antibody-drug conjugate) drugs. This one, which is the only one specific for melanoma, doesn't have a weird name yet - just numbers with DEDN as a prefix (Genentech/Roche). The name will come, however. Genentech alone has 8 ADC drugs in trial development (15 under study), and one ADC drug for an aggressive form of breast cancer is the first to be FDA approved, a couple of months ago.
My situation and the regimen - I had my first infusion on Wednesday (the regimen is 1 IV infusion for 1 1/2 hours every 3 weeks, probably for ever if you respond, which will be established within the first 6 weeks). I am here for a month because of all the scans and associated follow-up blood work the company demands - scans and bloodwork on Monday, infusion Wednesday, then bloodwork at 24 and 48 hours. Next Wednesday additional bloodwork, then another PET scan that Friday, bloodwork the following Wednesday, and finally the second infusion the following Wednesday. After that, I'm due for blood work weekly (plus the 3-week infusions) for a few months, and then I'll be here a day for 2 out of 3 weeks, and finally at the half-year mark, just for the infusions every 3 weeks - the major draw-back, but hey, if I'm a responder, it will be manageable, right? Side-effects are apparently almost totally infusion-related, so they gave me 20 mg steroids the night before plus benadryl the day of, and watched me like hawks every 15 minutes during the infusion. No problem at all, not even a little tired (this is now usual - they now expect no side-effects with the steroid premeds). The trial director, Dr. Jeffrey Infante, doesn't want to cite percentage responses, but it's clear he's most enthusiastic about this particular drug among all the ones they're doing trials on at Sarah Cannon (that's all they do - drug development). The clinical trial nurses, however, have said things to me that suggest that the response rate is somewhere around 50% (including achieving stable disease), and of course the lack of side-effects is an incredible plus.
It is especially hopeful for ocular melanoma, and the gossip is that the trial may be expanded first for those patients - apparently there are 2 or 3 ocular patients among the first 30 or so who've been taken into the trial, and they all have responded.
Everyone (nurses, doctors) speaks of the trial inevitably expanding in numbers and to other locations because it's so promising, and I fervently hope that is true, because otherwise, IF I am a responder, I will be condemned to fly down to Nashville a great deak - crazy company requirements.
I must warn you that I do tend to be an optimistic person (Polyannaish perhaps?), but this is clearly something to keep in mind if you hear about it down the line. I am not sure that there are any new seats on this trial available (it's only at Sarah Cannon, The Angeles Clinic, and 2 sites in Australia), and the original phase I plan was for a total of 50 patients altogether - about 20 already at Sarah Cannon, 1 taken in every 3 weeks for the past year, and about 10 still continuing treatment (meaning responders). Apparently, however, the company (Genentech) will suddenly call up and say something like "We want you to take in another 3 patients at a slightly lower dose" or some such, so if you are interested, do contact them. The people here have no idea if/when the trial will be expanded (again company business), but they all are confident it will be, so it won't hurt to notify them of your interest.
So I will let you know in a month whether I'm a responder or not - I'm very hopeful.