Clinical trial uses the body's own immune cells to fight cancer

August 7, 2015
By Andrea K. McDaniels
The Baltimore Sun

Dr. Aaron Rapoport with patientFeeling suddenly sick to his stomach one evening, Marty Melley rushed to the bathroom, where he grabbed the toilet to vomit and then blacked out.

"I thought for sure I was dying," Melley said. "I thought it was the end of me."

At the hospital, doctors eventually tested Melley's blood and determined that he had multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the plasma cells.

Blood plasma cells are the linchpin of the immune system, making the antibodies that recognize and attack infections. The cancer manifests itself in bone marrow as cancerous cells disrupt the production of normal blood cells. The disease weakens the bones and can cause kidney problems.

Doctors told Melley he might live three to five years with the cancer. That was 13 years ago.

Melley believes he benefited from a clinical trial he participated in through the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

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