The vaccine is ONT-10 and it is given in combination with varlilumab. Varlilumab (does that sound like a type of yoga pants) is an antibody. The goal is that combination of the two drugs will activate my immune system to fight the cancer. The combination of the two drugs is a new phase 1b study and so far the dose and side effects have not been established. It is an open label study (i.e., I get the drugs that they say I get). There are no placebos or experimental manipulations except for the dosage. We all get the same great deal.
Three days before the start of the study:
Again I reported to the infusion center and this time there was no problem. I had an infusion of a small dose of Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) to jumpstart the immune system response. It was not like serious chemo at all. I had a bit of nausea but nothing my regular anti-nausea drugs could not take care of. I had no loss of hair or anything drastic. It was given with a premed of Kytril and I drove myself home without a problem.
Three days later I was back at the hospital for day 1 of the trial.
I saw the nurse practioner who checked me over and made sure that I was still exercising and eating properly.
I had 4 subcutaneous (under the skin) injections of the vaccine ONT-10 in the abdomen and legs and then vitals checked to make sure I did not have a reaction. My drug reactions are legendary (not a good thing) so a clean bill of health was a huge relief. I then trotted off down to the infusion center to get my varlilumab. The nurse came to do the infusion and I noticed she was wearing chemo gear. She laughed and said that she was just checking to see if I was paying attention because of course I was not getting chemo.
Except for the three tries for a vein, everything went smoothly enough. I had the infusion over 90 minutes and then had to have blood drawn from a different vein (two more sticks) for a pk (pharmacokinetics; how much of the drug is in my body). I was fine and drove myself home.
Day 8 and 15
For the next two weeks, I went and got my ONT-10 injections and then home. Still no side effects at all.
The ONT-10 injections happened as usual. After that it was a trip to the infusion center for another dose of varlilumab. This was the same as Day 1. The infusion over 90 minutes and then a pk. Again, there was no need of a premed and no reaction.
This was a fun (not) visit. It started off with 18 tubes of blood being drawn. Fortunately, the phlebotomist knew a thing or two and it only took one stick. After that, it was plain sailing. I had the four injections and went home.
I’m half way through the dose loading phase. I really hope it is working. I'm living a normal life. I have no pain and no side effects. I work 40 or more hours a week, exercise two hours a day, bake bread four times a week, read and do all the things wives, mothers and friends do.