Update: For those of you wondering about 3F8, I’ve included some information from the FAQ Sloan Kettering has put together.
What is 3F8?
3F8 is the name of a substance called a monoclonal antibody. It attaches to GD2, which is a marker on the surface of neuroblastoma cells. 3F8 was produced by white blood cells of mice, and it must be carefully prepared for human use. 3F8 is part of our standard treatment for high-risk neuroblastoma.
How does 3F8 work?
When 3F8 is injected into the bloodstream, it travels through the body until it attaches to the marker GD2 that is present on all neuroblastoma cells. The attachment of 3F8 to a neuroblastoma cell signals the patient’s own immune system (e.g. the white blood cells) to treat neuroblastoma cells as foreign. In other words, the 3F8 directs the patient’s immune system, which ordinarily acts only to control infections, to attack neuroblastoma cells and kill them. The treatment is effective even when a patient’s immune system has been weakened by chemotherapy treatments because chemotherapy does not affect the part of the immune system that responds to 3F8 antibodies. Over time, as the body’s immune system becomes stronger, 3F8 treatments may help the body learn to fight tumors on its own.
Why does 3F8 cause pain?
3F8 attaches to GD2, which is present on some nerve cells as well as on neuroblastoma cells. When 3F8 attaches to a nerve cell, a message is sent to the brain, and the patient feels pain. The pain usually starts toward the middle or end of the daily 3F8 treatment and lasts a short time (usually from a few minutes up to an hour). Sometimes discomfort or minimal pain continues during the hours after the treatment. Medicines are used to prevent or control the pain (usually morphine or Dilaudid) and the allergic reactions (usually Benadryl or Vistaril). Ativan and Zofran are other medicines that can help. Patients who were treated with 3F8 beginning in 1986 have been followed, and to date, no permanent side effects on their nerves have appeared.
Ben and Sarah arrived in New York Sunday afternoon. They started the first round of 3F8 this morning.
Ben responded as most patients do undergoing this treatment. He went from 0 to 2000 on the pain scale in a matter of a few minutes of it being injected. I can’t imagine the pain my little boy felt and am heartbroken that i can’t be there to hold him as I have done many times before. I also can’t imagine the pain Sarah is feeling right now as she watches her first-born, really a miracle child since he was a miracle God brought us when we didn’t expect one, writhe in pain. God bless her for having the fortitude to handle this without going on that seven state shooting spree…
God bless Ben, too. He is such a trooper, much stronger than he appears. Someday he is going to rule the world, or at least a small part of it.
Please pray for Ben and Sarah this week.