Health Care Quarterly:

Local patient is the first in the world to receive prostate cancer drug

Nearly 10 years ago, Las Vegas resident Anthony Brasich was between jobs, wasn’t feeling well and was incredibly reluctant to see a doctor.

When he eventually mustered up the courage to see a physician, the doctor discovered a blood clot in his lungs, his prostate-specific antigen count was more than 5,000ng/mL (whereas the normal count is 4ng/mL) and he was diagnosed with stage 4 advanced metastatic prostate cancer.

He was given two months to live and was referred to Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang at Comprehensive Cancer Centers.

Flash forward to 2019: Brasich, 71, is still with us, having been given a number of different treatment options including chemotherapy, immunotherapies, radiopharmaceutical drugs, clinical trials and natural remedies.

Just a few months ago, when a form of hormone therapy left him feeling low on energy, he was ready to try something new. That was a Phase I clinical trial drug known as ARV-110, which targets and destroys androgen receptor (AR), a hormone receptor protein on cancer cells. Genetic signals from the receptor protein are key contributors to a resistence to treatment. ARV-110 degrades AR, thereby regulating the growth signals to cancer cells and controlling disease progression.

In April, Brasich received the first dose of ARV-110, making him the first patient in the world to receive this treatment. Before that happened and as with any clinical trial, there was a rigorous process for Brasich to qualify — including a deep dive into his medical records, scans, PSA counts and blood tests.

Given the nature of a Phase I trial, Brasich must be monitored carefully for any side effects or adverse reactions. During a typical appointment, he takes several blood tests, undergoes EKGs and consults with his physicians before a dose is administered. The drug itself comes in pill form and may be consumed in a matter of seconds. On certain visits, he stays in the clinic for an entire day for continuous monitoring with EKGs and blood collections.

Following his first course of ARV-110, Brasich said he’s feeling much better and believes that the drug is working. Where his last drug left him feeling exhausted and in bed for days, he now has the energy and strength to get outside, enjoy some fresh air, and even take his beloved dog on walks. His first PSA counts indicate a drop, which will certainly be monitored over time.

There is certainly a long road ahead for Brasich as he continues to battle his stage 4 diagnosis. But he’s off to a great start and continues to carry an optimistic attitude — similar to when he was given just two months to live a decade ago.

Since his first treatment, two other patients throughout the U.S. have begun their ARV-110 journey. Together these patients could shape how prostate cancer is treated in the future.

And, just to think, the first patient was right here in Las Vegas.

AnaArlene Ramirez, RN, OCN, is the research supervisor of Phase I clinical research at Comprehensive Cancer Centers.