Patient perspective on immunotherapy and the ITOC-3 conference

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Published: 4 Apr 2016
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Peter Trayhurn - Patient advocate

Cancer patient Peter Trayhurn provides ecancer with his personal thoughts and experiences with regards to immunotherapy and the ITOC-3 conference.


3rd Immunotherapy of Cancer Conference (ITOC3)

Patient perspective on immunotherapy and the ITOC-3 conference

Peter Trayhurn - Patient advocate

I’ve come to the conference to learn about the latest immunotherapies and apply it to my clinical study. My background is I’ve got metastatic colorectal in my lungs, liver and the peritoneum and over the last six years I’ve managed to clear myself of this disease that’s generally incurable and non-responsive to current immunotherapies.

What treatments have you tried during your journey with cancer?

Four years ago I came to Germany to use an experimental drug, catumaxomab or removab, which is a tri-functional antibody. In a ten week period I had all of my lesions disappear and that showed me the power of immunotherapies. Since then I’ve had a lot of instances of recurrence and I’ve continued to learn, every day in fact, about immunotherapy, my biology and the science behind it. That’s why I’m here, I’m constantly refining the strategy and the protocol that I am blessed to be able to apply to myself and the scientists here are sharing brilliant research from clinical trials. There are lots of people that have passed away that have taught us very valuable lessons and I’m seeking to really apply those to myself.

Could you tell us about your patient advocacy work?

One of the best things that happened, I was offered a job doing patient liaison support for immunotherapies with dendritic cell vaccines. So I’ve been able to encourage people, if they are interested, to do dendritic cell therapy, to understand its benefits, its potential limitations, but to make the effort to attempt these therapies if that was their inclination. In my own way, the fact that I’ve done twenty dendritic cell vaccines in the last four years, had remarkable responses on occasion and have had no new metastasis in general is a good sign for that technology, even though there are many other immunotherapies as we know. So I’ve enjoyed helping people and giving a little bit of hope because that is, I think, one of the drivers for the success of these therapies that’s difficult for the scientists to quantify.

As a patient, what is your perspective on the clinical world?

Look, I’d like to see the regulators, in a sense, step back a little bit and let the technologies be applied in the clinic in a more effective and in a much quicker timeframe. There’s a lot more that we could achieve a lot more quickly if there was less regulatory intervention and, I guess, a more permissive regulatory environment internationally. In particular, I’ve benefited from oncolytic viral therapies and that’s been scrutinised heavily by regulators and it’s been very beneficial in my personal experience. So that’s one key area.

Which new treatments give you, as a patient, the most hope?

I’m in the situation where I’ve almost got no disease burden so I’m looking at extending my survival and minimising recurrence. Some of the latest drugs and antibodies have got potential to help with that. I’ve also done everything in a holistic sense to minimise the impact of my disease and to maximise my immune capacity. That has been addressed in today’s lectures by the concept of an immunoscore where effectively our immune competence is a very predictive marker of our potential success. I didn’t have the benefit of doing that six years ago but we can assume from my results of immunotherapies that I would have had a very good immunoscore six years ago. So at least coming to these conferences helps me explain my clinical success and helps me have some more confidence to say to other people that survival is possible even if you’ve got extensive metastatic stage 4. They paid out my life insurance four years ago; I completely have spent it all in Germany and I have no regrets whatsoever. It’s a fantastic conference and I appreciate the opportunity to explain my success.