Mutation Assay Made Accessible to Filipino CML Patients

Few months ago, Max received another
request from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) for mutation analysis of
some of their patients who have failed to reach the therapeutic milestones with
their current treatment. This government hospital caters to more than 350 CML
patients. Doing the mutation analysis to monitor the patient’s status and
assist the physician in treatment management, has been quite a
challenge. Aside from the fact that these patients are financially constrained,
the mutation assay is still unavailable in the country.

In partnership with Touched by
Max, Inc., iCMLf, and Fred Hutchinson Research Center, 30 CML patients have once
again benefited from this initiative. On March 24th, the PGH medical
team assisted in taking the blood samples of the patients. Majority of these
patients are on their 2nd TKIs and have shown lack of response to treatment.

While the selection criteria does
not seem favorable for the patients, everyone in the group was appreciative of
being chosen as recipient of this project. Florenda, 44 years old and CML patient
for almost 15 years said that even if the result will not turn out good, it
means a lot to her that her blood will be analyzed. Likewise, another CML
patient named Oscar said, that he is lucky to be selected to help his physician
choose the right treatment protocol. It strengthens his hope to fight his
disease. On the other hand, Mary Joy immediately sent a thank you message. She
mentioned that it was her first time to have PCR and mutation test since she
was diagnosed five years ago.

Dr. Rico Paolo Gomez Tee, the
Chief Fellow in the Section of Hematology also said “We are now at an age where we
have to do more for our patients. We have discovered more about the biology of
the disease, and we have seen its behavior when things go awry. Thus the
importance of molecular monitoring and mutation testing. Molecular monitoring
makes us more confident in assuring that the leukemia is “asleep”.
Eventually, as future researches come, we look forward to achieving a total cure
where patients would stop taking drugs and be worry-free that their CML would
not come back. There are times when even with excellent care, our patients do
not seem to respond to treatment. And thus the further need for mutation
testing. Such an examination would allow the physician to tailor treatment
strategies for the patient. All of these strategies translate to excellent
patient care, where thankfully the ICMLF and Max have been very supportive
especially to less fortunate countries. Efforts such as molecular monitoring
and mutation testing have changed the therapeutic landscape of CML in the
Philippines. Hopefully, the Philippines receives continuous support for our

CML patients with the PGH Medical team

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