Camellia clinical trial lab visit
A visit to the Oxford based laboratory of Professor Paresh Vyas to see how a clinical trial known as Camellia is looking at a drug that it is hoped will encourage the bodys immune system to recognise AML (acute myeloid leukaemia) cells as foreign and kill them.
As many of you know, I serve on the AML clinical trials working group as a patient pepresentative. During these meetings we discuss the progress of various clinical trials for acute myeloid leukaemia. One such trial is known as Camellia and the lead investigator is Oxford based Professor Vyas. Although in it's early stages, the trial has shown some positive initial findings.
Camellia is a phase 1 drug trial which means that researchers are trying to establish the maximum tolerable dose and how often the drug should be given. The intention of the drug is to bind onto a bad boy known as CD47 which is expressed to varying degrees in cancerous cells of all acute myeloid leukaemia patients.
CD47 sends out a 'don't eat me' signal to the bodys immune system and thus the cancer gets left alone. It is hoped that the new drug being trialled will switch off this little nasty thereby enabling the bodies immune sytem to recognise the AML cancer cells as foreign and kill them.
I discovered the name Camellia comes from an arrangement of letters taken from the trials title as follows: A Phase 1 dose escalation trial of the Humanized Anti-CD47 Monoclonal Antibody Hu5F9-G4 in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
I was also intrigued to learn more about this trial and to this end I was able to arrange a visit to Professor Vyas at his laboratory in Oxford. He kindly arranged a full programme for me which included a tour of the laboratory facilities together with meetings with a number of other researchers, lab technicians and doctors.
I visited Professor Vyas in his lab at the Weatherall Institue of Molecular Medicine, Oxford on Friday 17th February to discuss the trial and also to take a tour of the lab and I was able to ask him some questions about the trial and I have reproduced the questions and answers below.
Q. How long do research projects like Camellia last?
A. They last variable lengths of time, but a clinical trial testing a brand new drug like Camellia usually lasts 1-2 years.
Q. What is the Camellia research project all about and what could it mean for AML patients in the future?
A. Camellia aims to bring a brand new treatment to cure AML patients. It is a treatment that is given by a drip into the patients bloodstream that encourages the patients own defense system to recognise the AML cells as foreign and to kill them.
Q. How have Bloodwise helped with the research and why are supporter donations so important?
A. Bloodwise support has been crucial to getting this trial going. Bloodwise have provided money for nurses for collecting the results of the trial and for some of data analysis. All this is vital.
Q. How do you see AML treatment in the future?
A. AML treatment will improve. We will cure more patients. For older patients we will develop drugs to allow patients to live longer with their disease with good quality of life. I see patients being treated with mixtures of treatments-tablets and drugs through drips that not only act like standard chemotherapy drugs-but also drugs that stimulate the bodys' own defences against leukaemia. We will also develop approaches to treat AML earlier before it becomes too aggressive.
My thoughts on the lab tour
This was a very productive visit and as well as discussing the trial we also talked about opening the world of research to the public gaze so that supporters can see how their donations are being invested to help beat blood cancer.
To this end social media is a valuable tool and perhaps laboratories hosting open days. I think this approach will raise greater awareness of blood cancer and show the world that Bloodwise supporter donations are making a big difference to the lives of blood cancer patients.
I hope that you have found this blog to be informative and please spead the word around far and wide.
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