Activating the Immune System to Fight Prostate Cancer: Andy’s Immunotherapy Story

(dramatic instrumental music) -[Andy] I like to solve problems. I just like to go at them
and if I make 10 mistakes that’s fine, I’ll get those
10 mistakes out of the way and I’ll finally figure out
what was the right thing to do. I’m a professor at UC Berkeley
in mechanical engineering. I’ve always liked exercising. I walk everywhere. I’m never in the car. I started log rolling when I was 10 or 11. I like to play a little
baseball with my son. I was diagnosed with
cancer in November of 2014 after a long year and a
half period of discomfort after a long year and a
half period of discomfort and at one point, I
made just a little graph and it was just going down so quickly. I remember thinking, at this rate, I mean, I’m not going to
be alive in three months. The biopsy showed very
extensive and high grade cancer in my prostate. It had spread to lymph
nodes and some nerves part of my bladder and my bones. Started hormone therapy the next day and then chemotherapy right away as well. – [Johanna] When we found out
that this was Andy’s diagnosis we knew it was bad. The first thing, I was
researching like crazy are there any trials? I think the state of the disease was such that there was just nothing here. – [Andy] And then through
friends, we were recommended to MD Anderson in Houston. And Johanna did a lot of the legwork just making that happen. You know, I think if Johanna
hadn’t been there to help me through just the logistics,
among other things It’s too intimidating. I think the thought of traveling there even at that point, seemed daunting. But enough people encouraged
us that we had to go once. I’ve come to really not
mind traveling at all. It actually makes me feel
like I’m taking things really seriously and
doing everything I can. I had surgery there in June of 2015. Started my clinical trial
less than a year after I had been diagnosed. -[Dr. Subudhi] Andy received
an immunotherapy known as ipilimumab, or Yervoy. It’s a drug that temporarily removes the brakes off the T cells which are the immune cells that help fight cancer. – [Johanna] And so here was
this option of something that was pretty exciting. Yes, it was also a little scary because there are all these side effects, but we were all in. We just wanted to go
forward and make it happen. – [Andy] I was supposed
to receive four doses of ipilimumab every three weeks. I ended up only getting three treatments. -[Dr. Subudhi] Andy actually
developed one of the most typical side effects
from this immunotherapy which is when the immune cells
actually attacked his skin and caused a rash. However, Andy actually had
one of the best responses that we’ve seen with prostate cancer. – [Andy] Dr. Subudhi said,
you know, your immune system is suitably excited and we’re not going to have this fourth dose. But they argued that it was not unusual. They were really learning
how to do the dosing. – [Dr. Subudhi] Andy is defying the odds. For patients like Andy, median survival would have been measured in
probably two to four years and I believe that this trial has changed that prognosis significantly. One year after he started his treatment he texted me a picture of him and he’s like look, I’m one year out And then I shared that with
the rest of our team, saying this is why we do what we do. – [Andy] Being included
in the trial gave me a huge amount of hope. It’s a year and a half later
since the immunotherapy and I feel great. I’m active, although I’ve had a little bit of progression in my PSA I’m grateful to have been on the trial and I would do any other
trial pretty much right away given the opportunity. – [Johanna] Going
through the immunotherapy and coming out and being
without any kind of treatment for the last year has
been, for me, a huge win. That’s the other big piece of hope. There’s breakthroughs all the time. It’s amazing to me how
quickly things change. – [Andy] Immunotherapy
is really going to be a new and long lasting
treatment for cancer. Given that the Cancer Research
Institute’s main objective is to promote the funding and
understanding of immunotherapy it seems like a wonderful thing and will ultimately change a
lot of lives for the better. (dramatic instrumental music)

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