Monday, November 5, 2012
Leukemia - L'Asparaginase Study
Jemma's bone marrow biopsies from day 33 and day 109 of her treatment were examined for minimum residual disease. That means scientists looked at her bone marrow with very sensitive equipment to see if they could find any lingering Leukemic cells. On day 33 they found .0001 per the sample size and on day 109 they found 0. The results of these tests place her in the medium risk group. Approximately 50%-60% of ALL patients end up in this group.
As part of the medium risk group she will be participating in a study. By participating in the study her treatment could proceed down two different paths. The path will be randomly selected by the computers of the scientists responsible for the test. If she is selected for Option 1 she will receive the standard treatment - one dose of L'Asparaginase. If she is selected for Option 2 she will receive nine additional doses of the chemotherapy drug L'Asparaginase.
Cells need asparaginase enzymes to survive. Normal cells can produce their own, but Leukemic cells find it in the blood. The drug eliminates the asparaginase in the blood which leads to cell death. Therefore, any remaining Leukemic cells should be eliminated. The study will determine if additional doses of the drug will lower the occurrence of Leukemia relapses.
If she is selected for Option 2, her catheter would remain in her body an additional three months. The doses of L'Asparaginase would be given every two weeks from the end of protocol II into the beginning of the maintenance phase. She could experience side effects due to the medication such as allergic reaction, bleeding and clotting issues with blood platelets and problems with the pancreas.
This is a study, so at this point in time it is unknown if receiving the drug will lower the risk of relapses. Both my husband and I completely support and encourage studies like this. In the past, parents made the decision to participate in these studies and we feel they are very important to improving the treatment of Leukemia.