One week passed since Cimzia was first injected. I must admit that skepticism prevailed from the beginning since Enbrel stopped working over the past couple of months. This skepticism was grounded in the fact that Cimzia acts on the same system as Enbrel – they both block TNF. But some investigation revealed that the structure and sources of these antibody treatments differ. That alone brought some hope.
In searching out information about Cimzia, I learned more about the systems involved in producing antibody treatments (which actually resulted in a Nobel Prize). Biologicals are typically antibodies – proteins produced as part of the immune system. There are about 20 antibody medicines currently approved by the FDA. Antibody medicines are genetically engineered. It appears that mice play an important role (thank all of your local lab mice). The first developed treatments were mouse proteins and these failed once placed into a human. But genetic developments resulted in the mixing of mouse and human components. Currently approved antibody treatments for RA have a range of mouse and human parts. For example…
- Remicade (chimeric = 65% human, 35% mouse)
- Cimzia (humanized = 95% human, 5% mouse)
- Humira (human = 100% human)
But no matter how much human or mouse protein is in the final product, mice are used somewhere in the development of all of them. That’s why I’m going around teasing my children by making my fingers into mouse whiskers and showing buck teeth.
Yesterday brought a level of energy not felt in over a month. Never the less, hope was suppressed. I think that skepticism is a psychological defense mechanism in order to avoid disappointment. Many with RA travel down this road of dashed hopes as one after another medical treatment is tested and abandoned. But today brought even better news…I woke up quickly, met someone for breakfast (they commented that I looked good!), and worked a full day. It’s now 7:00 p.m. and I’m still going strong. On top of that, joint pain and swelling is much diminished. My wedding band easily slipped off my finger. That pesky right knee with the beat up cartilage was quiet. This was truly a day for rejoicing.
The Cimzia literature indicates 1-2 weeks before symptoms may improve. The pattern of the last two days is a good sign. But taking life one day at a time is a lesson that RA quickly teaches. Waxing my snow skis will wait until later this winter (now there’s hope!).
A CimPay card arrived in the mail yesterday. This nifty card, easily obtained by completing an online form, provides $500 of benefits for 12 months. That will come in handy to cover that $40 a month co-pay required by my insurance company. These cost savings can be used for shaving gear to get rid of those “mouse whiskers”!