Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rilley's 9th post surgical month comes with more positive test results.

Today marks Rilley's ninth month since his surgery and with the summer in full swing, the kids back and forth to activities and camps we've barely had time to slow down, let alone do much on the computer.  However, two weeks ago Dr. Ohlfest had sent us a quick email to tell us that the proof is in and Rilley's vaccine seems to be a success.  The tests were run on blood samples taken the day of surgery (Nov. 4, 2010), before any vaccine had been given, then again on blood taken during our three month follow up visit (Feb. 4, 2011), at which time his sixth and final vaccine was administered, and finally on blood from our six month follow up visit (May 24, 2011).
"As promised, the evidence that vaccines generated tumor-reactive antibody response in your Rilley.  Looks like black lines, but understand that each line represents a single antibody specific to a single protein on his tumor.  This helps explain his survival." - John Ohlfest, Ph.D.
Given that I do not have a scientific background, I hope that I can do this topic justice by trying to explain it in plain English.  In the image above, the strip dated 11-4-2010 is clear of any sign of the tumour specific antibodies.  This would be obvious to those who have followed Rilley's story from the beginning as the vaccine was created using parts of the tumour that was extracted on that date.  Hence, no vaccine was in existence yet.

In the strips dated 2-4-2011 and 5-24-2011 you will notice that horizontal lines have appeared. These lines represent the antibodies that are specific to single proteins that were on Rilley's tumour.  The theory is that some, but not necessarily all of the antibodies may have direct anti-tumour effects by triggering other immune cells in Rilley's body to recognize and kill a tumour.  Now that Rilley is tumour free, as proven by the last two MRIs, these antibodies will now stand guard in an attempt fight off any recurrence of his specific tumour.

As I quoted from Dr. Ohlfest's email above, this helps to explain why Rilley has done so well.  We are hopeful that the same tests run this coming November, our one year (and final) follow up visit, will yield the same results.

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