Touch of the flu…and carfilzomib

I began feeling a bit “off” right before Xmas…Fatigue (I mean, I couldn’t keep my eyes open…), immense fatigue…and a low-grade fever: those were my main symptoms. Nothing major, as you can see, but it was enough to slow me down at a time that is normally quite busy for me, including frenzied Xmas cookie baking and that sort of thing.

The low-grade fever turned into a proper fever after Xmas, so I gave up fighting it and just slept. And slept and slept. Then, a day or so ago, the fever was gone. The main symptom is gone, but I’m still super fatigued. Bummer.

That said, I’d much rather be fatigued than have THE DREADED COUGH! So, truth be told, this touch of flu hasn’t been all that bad. Many of our friends and neighbors have had a terrible time with this flu (one of my friends had it twice!), so I can’t complain. Besides, I had the best nursing care ever. In addition to Stefano, of course, my adult cats made sure I was always warm and surrounded by purrs and love…Whenever I’d wake up from one of my comas, there they were…on top of me and/or around me. So comforting!

I’m still too exhausted to feel up to bringing in the New Year with our friends, so Stefano and I are staying at home with the kitties…Speaking of which, Pandora and Pixie are still in their quarantine room, mainly because their ear mite infection hasn’t completely cleared, and ALL WE NEED is for the other five adult cats to get ear mites (AGGGHHHHHH!!!). But just a few days from now the vet is coming to check them over, so it won’t be long before we will be able to let them out…It’s TIME. They’ve been isolated in that (big) room for almost two months now. Such good, patient kitties…but they really want to come out, now…And they’re getting BIG…I’ll try to post a photo or two tomorrow…

As for carfilzomib, well, the news isn’t all that great. Since some of you might be taking it or might know someone who is, I thought you might want to read about the recent discovery that a higher than expected percentage of patients on carfilzomib has been experiencing some severe cardiovascular issues. Not good. Here’s the link to the Science Day article where I read about it just this morning: goo.gl/vFcSvF

P.S. After publishing this post, I thought I’d double-check the carfilzomib news (I usually do the reverse!) and found out hat these cardiovascular problems have been known for years now. Years! Quite a few studies on this topic have warned about the toxicity of this drug (from 2013, possibly earlier). So this study simply confirmed what was already out there.

And this shows that I am not so up to date on conventional MM therapies…Then again, neither is Science Daily, hehe.

Okay, I need to go check on the mad kittens now (they are SO active!!!), and then go help Stefano with our New Year’s dinner, yum yum. I hope everyone has heaps of fun tonight AND heaps of good food and happiness!

HAPPY NEW YEAR – BUON ANNO, everyone!!! And may 2018 be a VERY HEALTHY YEAR FOR ALL OF US!!!  🙂  

Mummy with myeloma

I just read a fascinating bit of news. After examining two Egyptian mummies (a man and a woman who had died, respectively, in 1800 and 2000 BC), an international team determined that they both had cancer…The woman had breast cancer…and the man had multiple myeloma.

These are the oldest known cases of breast cancer and myeloma…

So myeloma is NOT a relatively recent type of cancer…That’s incredibly interesting, don’t you think? I thought so, anyway…

Here’s the link to the Science Daily article: goo.gl/tkW8T4 

Well, well…

December test results

I had blood tests (and the Bence Jones 24-hour urine test) last week.

This afternoon I got my results. Here goes, in a nutshell:

  • My M-spike has gone down (it has actually been going down a wee bit for the past two tests, so this is the third “wee bit down”).
  • Total IgG is also down (for the second time, when compared to my last few tests).
  • My hemoglobin is in the normal range, even though my red blood cells are slightly low, but just slightly.
  • Everything else looks pretty much the same. Almost everything, certainly anything of importance, is a wee bit better compared to my most recent tests. For example, my monoclonal component hasn’t been this low since 2012. And my freelite chains have also gone down quite a bit.
  • No Bence Jones. Yaaaay!

You are probably curious to know what I’ve been taking. Not much, actually. I mean, in addition to using Nigella sativa in my food, I’ve been taking my usual 8 grams of C3 Complex curcumin a day, divided into two doses (4 grams at lunchtime, 4 at dinnertime). And, since last summer, I have been testing a Ganoderma lucidum supplement: 960 mg, twice a day (again, lunch and dinner, together with the curcumin). Well, the Ganoderma seems to have done something, for sure.

Or could it simply be the “kitten” effect (see photo of Pandora, left; Pixie, right)? Meow!!! 

Who knows? 😉

Anyway, whatever the cause, these results confirm that I’m stable…And to think that more than 12 years have passed since my SMM diagnosis…

Well, well, well! Stefano and I certainly have some celebrating to do this evening. 🙂

Ciao, everyone, and may the holiday season bring GOOD NEWS to you, too!!!

New study: a curcumin-carfilzomib combination is deadly to U266 myeloma cells

Well, well, well…

A few minutes ago a recently-published Italian study caught my eye. A group of researchers from the University of Messina (Sicily) has discovered that the combined effects of curcumin and carfilzomib (CFZ) are absolutely deadly to multiple myeloma U266 cells.  😎  

Here’s the link to the abstract: goo.gl/EBTwcc 

As we can read, the researchers conclude the following: “These findings evidence that curcumin can ameliorate CFZ efficacy, and lead us to hypothesize that this effect might be useful to optimize CFZ therapy in MM patients.

Indeed!

At any rate, I thought this study might be of huge interest to anyone who is taking carfilzomib right now…and so I wrote this quick post! But now I have to get back to my kittens (the vet is coming to visit them day after tomorrow…I so hope she will give us some GOOD NEWS…!!!).

High levels of the enzyme ADAR1 are associated with reduced survival in multiple myeloma

We have a new target in multiple myeloma. An enzyme called ADAR1. In a nutshell, patients with high levels of this enzyme in their myeloma cells don’t live as long as those with low levels of ADAR1: goo.gl/MpsQSm

But the most interesting finding, in my opinion, is as follows…

In the words of the senior author of this University of San Diego study, Prof. Catriona Jamieson, “Several major advances in recent years have been good news for multiple myeloma patients, but those new drugs only target terminally differentiated cancer cells and thus can only reduce the bulk of the tumor. […] They don’t get to the root cause of disease development, progression and relapse — cancer stem cells — the way inhibiting ADAR1 does.”

Ah, myeloma stem cells. Those darned thingies. Coincidentally, lately I’ve been working on a post about MM stem cells (it’s taking much MORE time than expected, mainly because of the kitten issues we’re having in this period, as you know by now…).

Anyway, c’mon, let’s get those clinical trials going, especially since the drugs that inhibit ADAR1 are already on the market. It’s a no-brainer!!!

Dendritic cells, miR-29b, and multiple myeloma

Life is very complicated these days. This morning, after consulting with the vet, I discovered that our giardia-ridden kittens will have to undergo a second cycle of treatment, which will begin next week. This means that they will have to spend another month holed up in their luxurious quarantine, poor dears! I am spending almost all of my free time with them…playing with them, feeding them, holding them, cleaning  up, sterilizing, and being SUPER CAREFUL whenever I handle anything at all in the quarantine room.

Mind you, it may sound like it, but I’m not complaining. Not at all!!! I mean, just look at that face!  🙂 

Well, okay, I admit, I HAVE had a few frustrating moments in which I’ve asked myself, and/or Stefano, HOW and WHY did we get into this mess??? Agh!

But the truth is that we almost certainly saved the lives of our kittens, and probably the lives of their siblings, too (immediately after we received the giardia diagnosis, I got in touch with the woman who gave us the kittens…She had no idea…). So that is something to remember…

And besides, these two kitties are so incredibly adorable and funny and affectionate…They act like normal, playful, curious, crazy kittens that zoom all over the place and then crash and sleep until they have enough strength to go back into the crazy kitten mode…I mean, you can’t tell that there’s anything wrong with them…except for the huge quantity of smelly pooparoni (though it’s MUCH better than it was a couple of weeks ago, let me tell ya)! Yuck!

Okay, enough…It will only be another month, then they’ll be cured, and we’ll be able to let them out into the rest of the house…and meet their older siblings (yikes…a bit nervous about that). If we’re lucky, they’ll be well enough by Xmas. That would be a lovely present indeed!

But that’s not the reason I’m writing this post, even though, hehe!!!, it might seem that way. Nope, this evening I wanted to write (then I got derailed, sorry!) about a new myeloma study that I bumped into just this morning…a very interesting, and mostly Italian!, study on myeloma and dendritic cells (DCs, for short), which is fully available online and has been accepted for publication in “Leukemia.” Here’s the link: goo.gl/wFMjS1 I’ve written a few posts on dendritic cells and myeloma, btw, so you can use my “Search Box” to have a look through my blog, if you want.

The abstract begins with a good explanation of DCs: “Dendritic cells (DCs) play a key role in regulating tumor immunity, tumor cell growth and drug resistance.” The authors believe that MM cells may recruit and reprogram DCs in order to survive. They found a member of the microRNA family (a family of teeny tiny RNA molecules that regulate gene expression), called  miR-29b, which is is not downregulated in normal DCs but, drum roll!, is downregulated in most types of cancer, including myeloma.

Now, even though we may not understand (or care!) what exactly this little, hairpin-shaped miR-29b does, etc., the main thing is that it  is able to counteract “pro-inflammatory pathways, including STAT3 and NF-kB, and cytokine/chemokine signaling networks which correlated with patients’ adverse prognosis and development of bone disease.”

Translation: more miR-29b, less myeloma cell proliferation.

So, miR-29b is GOOD. From our perspective, of course, not from that of a myeloma cell. 😉

Now, it’s getting late over here in Italy, and I don’t have much time left. Stefano is on his way home (oh, oops, he just walked in the door…I have to go help him with dinner…He’s the chef tonight…). So I have to leave you with this study and all its complexities.

But do have e a look at page 23. There you will find that ASPIRIN and CURCUMIN “revealed a promising therapeutic activity in both MGUS and sMM patients.”

AHA!, so researchers ARE paying attention. This one sentence made my day…my week, even! 🙂

Oh, and guess what? Curcumin upregulates the expression of miR-29b. Tadaaaaaa!

I will have to keep my eye on these authors who are also looking into the role of this little molecule in the progression from MGUS to MM.

Good stuff, good stuff!!! Take care, everyone!!! Ciao!

Giardiasis

Well, phooey! Last week we finally found out that our two new kittens have giardiasis, which is an intestinal infection caused by a parasite–giardia (see photo below…it looks like a harmless balloon with a scary face, but it’s actually a microscope image of this nasty little intestinal parasite)–which can be transmitted to humans, too, especially, eek, those with an immunodeficiency.

Eh. I have to be super careful. And I have been…

How we found out about the giardiasis is a long messy (and smelly!!!) story that I’ll spare you.  Luckily, the kittens have responded well to the anti-giardia drug and are in excellent shape now, gaining weight and so on. They are even more adorable and vivacious and funny, now that they are (obviously) feeling better.

Many thanks to the lovely vet who, after others failed (no comment!), finally figured out what was wrong…and carried out the correct test, the giardia test…GRAZIE!!!

So all is well and relatively calm in our feline household. I say “calm,” because Pandora and Pixie have not yet been released from their quarantine area (i.e., the guest bedroom, which, stuffed with all the presents that friends and neighbors have brought over, now looks even more like a kittens’ Disneyworld…Indeed, I’ll have to donate some toys to the cat shelter at some point…).

Unfortunately, we will probably have to keep the two kitties under lock and key for another couple of weeks or so, until we’re sure that the giardia beasties are all gone for good…Bummer, eh! But, better be safe than sorry! 

As you can imagine, taking care of the kittens in this period…doing laundry, disinfecting their room, disinfecting ourselves, making sure they are happy and playing a lot, doing more laundry (!), and so on and so forth, has REALLY cut into my free time, so I haven’t finished my almost-ancient-by-now post about the EBV-MM link. That annoys me because it’s a very interesting post, to boot, so I will try to finish it in the next couple of days.

That is…if nothing else comes up! Aaaaghhhh!  🙂 

Take care, everyone! Ciao! 

Pandora and Pixie-Panacea

For the past seven days I’ve been dividing my free time between our two new kittens and our resident adult cats.

The two “groups” haven’t officially met yet, because the kittens have loose stools (not caused by parasites, luckily…so it’s probably just because of the dietary change…still, quite gross…and smelly, yuckaroni!!). We have to get rid of the kittens’ intestinal problems before letting them,er, loose in the house. I mean, it’s one thing to have TWO cats with intestinal issues, quite another to have SEVEN cats with issues. Ouch!  So they are in quarantine in the guest bedroom.

Of course, my adult cats KNOW that something fishy is going on behind that closed door. They can certainly smell and hear the kittens, especially when the tiny critters run around the room, chasing each other and making quite a bit of noise.

But they haven’t actually SEEN them yet.

I’ve transformed the guest bedroom into a kitten wonderland. It’s packed with our cats’ old toys and stuffed animals, and with NEW toys, too! Most of our friends and neighbors who have come to see the new kittens have been bringing them NEW toys…so we have some new kitty tunnels and kitty wands. I’ll have to donate some to the cat shelter at some point!

Anyway, these two little sisters are the friendliest kitties we’ve ever had, with the possible exception of Pinga, our 8-year-old, who also made herself at home immediately. But Pinga isn’t always super friendly with strangers, whereas these kittens absolutely love and climb all over everyone who comes to visit. They are super kittens, simply bursting with joy. You can’t help but smile and laugh at their antics. 🙂

They have made such a difference in our lives…in just one week! Yes, sure, right now they’re a lot of extra work, keeping the litter box clean, cleaning the floor (little creatures are very messy!)…

Plus, Stefano and I aren’t sleeping together, which is hard for both of us. He sleeps with the kittens, I sleep with the adult cats. It has to be that way until we let the kittens out of that room. But it won’t be for long. As soon as there is no more diarrhea, we will slowly and carefully introduce the adults to the babies.

Now for their names: Pandora is the mostly-white kitten. She is VERY energetic, playful, mischievous and, well, all over the place. We have named the multi-colored kitten Pixie-Panacea (Pixie, for short; Panacea, the goddess of healing, was suggested to me by a few blog readers…thank you!). Pixie is much calmer and cuddlier. She’s also slightly smaller than Pandora, and not as tough.

I’m still finding it difficult to get decent photos of them, because when they play, they play hard and fast, especially Pandora, and all my photos come out fuzzy. Terrible. And yes, I should have “lightened up” a few of these photos, but I don’t like altering photos. Anyway, I’ll see what I can do with the next photos I take (I take heaps every day, actually)…

These are the most adorable kittens I have EVER seen! And they’re OURS! Such happiness…after so much sadness…Life is good…again! 🙂

“Gut bacteria ‘boost’ cancer therapy”

That’s the title of a very interesting BBC News article I read this morning, thanks to my friend Paul: goo.gl/pkXS1J It’s about two recent studies that examined patients with cancer (1. lung or kidney; 2. melanoma), discovering that those who had a lot of “friendly” gut bacteria responded better to immunotherapy.

Excerpt: Dr Jennifer Wargo, from Texas, told the BBC: “If you disrupt a patient’s microbiome you may impair their ability to respond to cancer treatment.”

Okay, so the patients in the two studies didn’t have myeloma. But I would bet anything that those three types of cancer aren’t the only ones that are strongly impacted by our gut bacteria. I would bet anything that myeloma is on that list, too. Anything! 

Besides, I then read (while cuddling my black kitty, Prezzemolo, in my arms) that the gut microbiome really changes after a stem cell transplant. See this 2015 Italian study published in “Blood,” e.g.: goo.gl/Xn12JC

Changes in the gut bacteria of SCT patients can cause severe infections and inflammatory bowel conditions…and also the scary and horrible GvHD (graft versus host disease).

A 2015 U.S. study focuses on the role of Clostridium difficile (a really nasty sort of bacteria, as the word “difficile” implies!) during SCTs: goo.gl/AK5yQp. It concludes that C. difficile is one of the main causes of lower gastrointestinal distress in patients undergoing autologous SCTs. Yep, myeloma patients, too. 

In sum, if you have too much bad bacteria, you can get into serious trouble…even if you’re healthy!

C. difficile, incidentally, really proliferates in the colon after we use antibiotics…So whenever you’re on antibiotics, make sure you also take probiotics (not at the same time, eh!). Of course, always ask your doctor first…

I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again today: we really need to pay attention to our microbiome.

Even if we aren’t on antibiotics…

Our body needs probiotics. 

Pixie, Pandora, Peppola, Pepper…???

Stefano and I went to visit our new kittens about ten days ago. Oh my. They are so unbelievably ADORRRRRRABLE…such wonderful, happy, friendly kittens…

They are still with their mother, and in fact here is an important bit of information: kittens should NOT be taken away from their mother before they are at least two months old, otherwise they might have behavior and even health problems later on in life. And so we have been waiting for them to be weaned and reach the proper age.

It also turns out that our rather random decision to adopt TWO kittens instead of one was absolutely spot on. Kittens that are adopted in pairs tend to be healthier and happier and have better “social skills.” Yay!

In the beginning, we’d decided to adopt two of the three females in this 4-kitten litter. But the little male (see photo on the right) chose us as soon as he set eyes on us…It was so obvious. He was “in our face” all the time (during our first visit and, even more, during our second visit, climbing up our jeans, etc.).

And so we both ended up falling completely in love with him. So, after the second visit, we decided to adopt him and the little white female. We were going to call the male “Potter” as in “Harry Potter,” since he cast a big spell over us. Plus, we’re both big fans of HP! 🙂

But before we could tell the kittens’ human mother (signora Carla), she gave “Potter” to a little boy who had just lost his Dad. He came over to her house to see the kittens with his mother and brother, and he asked if he could have one. Carla didn’t know, at that time, that we’d changed our minds about “Potter.” And so, of course, she gave him to the sad little boy. We found out the same day. Stefano was very upset, and I admit that I felt a twinge of sadness, too…but, after a moment, I thought, “well, that little boy needs an amazing super kitten more than we do. And our two little girls will be just as wonderful…for sure!”

So, no regrets (although, okay, Stefano is still a bit upset…).

The little mostly-white female (photo no. 1) has a HUGE personality. So we may name her Pandora or Pixie. Any other “P” names that make you think of a feisty and totally lovable little creature like that? As for the darker, multi-colored kitten (photo no. 3, sitting next to her sister on my lap), she was asleep most of the time, so we aren’t sure about her name. In fact, we’re not sure about what to name either of them.

I tried to take some decent photos of the tiny tornadoes during the second visit, but they were either climbing madly all over us, chasing a bit of ribbon that I’d brought with me, or way too close to the camera. These are the best of the lot. Pandora/Pixie/? is on my crossed legs in photo no. 1; Potter is on Stefano’s in no. 2, and No-name-at-all-yet is out of focus in no. 3.

Anyway, TOMORROW (can’t wait!!!) we’re picking them both up and bringing them to their new home, so I’ll be taking PLENTY of photos in the foreseeable future…good ones, or, at least, better ones! 😉

As for the virus-myeloma post I’ve been working on  lately (a long, complicated article), a few days ago I almost had a heart attack, when the bloody Word file wouldn’t open. I kept getting the “this file is damaged” message (or something similar). I finally figured out how to fix it, but boyohboy that was scary. From now on, I guess I’ll save my work in a couple of places, just to be safe. Anyway, with the kittens coming, I don’t know when I’ll get back to it…but I hope to finish it soon (while they’re sleeping or with Stefano, e.g….).

Take care, everyone! My mind is full of kittens right now, and nothing else!!!

Ciaoooooo! 🙂