I'm amazed I'm still alive because I know how terrible a disease it is.
As a doctor and a pathologist, Thèrése Bocklage knew her prognosis was grim. The melanoma she’d had removed 20 years earlier had returned, spreading to her lungs and abdomen. But she also knew that new treatments for her type of cancer were becoming available every day, and she had expert colleagues to ask for advice.
That advice led her to Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D., an oncologist at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, who is pioneering new therapies for the treatment of melanoma. The particular treatment that Thèrése received is a novel drug called pembrolizumab, made by Merck. The drug is an antibody that targets a molecule on T cells called PD-1. PD-1 is a checkpoint molecule that shuts down immune responses. By covering up this molecule, pembrolizumab “takes the brakes off” the immune response, allowing a stronger anti-cancer response.
Dr. Bocklage began treatment in January 2012. A little over 2 years later, TheAnswertoCancer (TheA2C) spoke to the 54-year-old physician-scientist, who is in complete remission.
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