Proleukin (aldesleukin) Recombinant IL-2: Go short, think long

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic melanoma (mM)renal cell carcinoma (mRCC).

All photos are of actual Proleukin patients who are cancer survivors.

Individual results may vary.

Gary Ater

Gary Ater

NED Since 2004

I’m known as “Mr. Fixit,” and I can fix just about anything. Never did I imagine that my ‘can-do’ outlook would be so instrumental in what turned out to be the fight of my life. It all started in the early 90’s when my barber kept bugging me about a growth on my right sideburn – turns out it was melanoma. After many surgeries to remove the growth and rounds of medication and radiation, the disease came back with a vengeance in October 2003 and had spread to my neck, lungs and liver. I was told that I had metastatic melanoma, had six months to live and that I should get my affairs in order, but I knew there had to be something that could help me.

It’s ironic that the only option available to me, because of insurance limitations, was Proleukin, so I was given it by default and little did I know, I was a very lucky person.

Treatment was underway and so were the side effects. I had them all – diarrhea, vomiting, dry mouth, skin peeling (I peeled like a onion!), and rigors – they were the worst. But with every side effect, my healthcare team said that these were all expected and they always had a solution. What I didn’t expect was what my tests showed after two courses of Proleukin - no disease found in my neck and the spots on my lungs and liver were shrinking!

“I was so excited and encouraged that they couldn’t give me Proleukin fast enough. I said, ‘bring it on, I can take it because I knew it was going to work.”

I finished my treatment and have been NED since 2004. Every year is just a blessing to me. It’s another year I can spend with my wife, my daughter and grandson (Elvis, who’s my best bud), and my son, who is about to get married for the first time. I am such a lucky person.

With my new knee (I had knee replacement surgery in February 2017), I enjoy getting back to my active lifestyle. But what I really look forward to is traveling the racing circuit with my grandson Elvis who aspires to become a NASCAR driver. He is the 2016 USAC national champion, part of the Quarter Midget racing team. I’ll be doing a lot of flying to racing venues but Elvis tells me that won’t last long. “Elvis says ‘Grampy, don’t worry. When I’m a NASCAR driver, I’ll just send my jet for you.’”

I live life to the fullest the best I can. I hope my ‘can-do’ spirit can inspire others to persevere no matter what.

Fun Facts:

  • I raced go karts as a young boy
  • In 2017, I will celebrate 40 wonderful years of marriage to the love of my life and caregiver, Linda
  • I recently retired for the third time – this time from a part-time job at a local school where I did repairs and maintenance
  • I spent about four years remodeling our home
  • My wife Linda and I are planning to move to Arizona and maybe getting a new RV and traveling the country

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Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic melanoma (mM) and metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). Individual results may vary.

Summary of Important Safety Information for Proleukin® (aldesleukin) for injection, for intravenous infusion

WARNINGS

Therapy with Proleukin® (aldesleukin) should be restricted to patients with normal cardiac and pulmonary functions as defined by thallium stress testing and formal pulmonary function testing. Extreme caution should be used in patients with a normal thallium stress test and a normal pulmonary function test who have a history of cardiac or pulmonary disease.

Proleukin should be administered in a hospital setting under the supervision of a qualified physician experienced in the use of anticancer agents. An intensive care facility and specialists skilled in cardiopulmonary or intensive care medicine must be available.

Proleukin administration has been associated with capillary leak syndrome (CLS) which is characterized by a loss of vascular tone and extravasation of plasma proteins and fluid into the extravascular space. CLS results in hypotension and reduced organ perfusion which may be severe and can result in death. CLS may be associated with cardiac arrhythmias (supraventricular and ventricular), angina, myocardial infarction, respiratory insufficiency requiring intubation, gastrointestinal bleeding or infarction, renal insufficiency, edema, and mental status changes.

Proleukin treatment is associated with impaired neutrophil function (reduced chemotaxis) and with an increased risk of disseminated infection, including sepsis and bacterial endocarditis. Consequently, preexisting bacterial infections should be adequately treated prior to initiation of Proleukin therapy. Patients with indwelling central lines are particularly at risk for infection with gram positive microorganisms. Antibiotic prophylaxis with oxacillin, nafcillin, ciprofloxacin, or vancomycin has been associated with a reduced incidence of staphylococcal infections.

Proleukin administration should be withheld in patients developing moderate to severe lethargy or somnolence; continued administration may result in coma.

INDICATION AND USAGE

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (metastatic RCC).

Proleukin is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic melanoma.

Careful patient selection is mandatory prior to the administration of Proleukin.

Evaluation of clinical studies to date reveals that patients with more favorable ECOG performance status (ECOG PS 0) at treatment initiation respond better to Proleukin, with a higher response rate and lower toxicity. Therefore, selection of patients for treatment should include assessment of performance status.

Experience in patients with ECOG PS >1 is extremely limited.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is contraindicated in patients with a known history of hypersensitivity to interleukin-2 or any component of the Proleukin formulation.

Proleukin is contraindicated in patients with an abnormal thallium stress test or abnormal pulmonary function tests and those with organ allografts. Retreatment with Proleukin is contraindicated in patients who have experienced the following drug-related toxicities while receiving an earlier course of therapy: Sustained ventricular tachycardia (≥5 beats), Cardiac arrhythmias not controlled or unresponsive to management, Chest pain with ECG changes, consistent with angina or myocardial infarction, Cardiac tamponade, Intubation for >72 hours, Renal failure requiring dialysis >72 hours, Coma or toxic psychosis lasting >48 hours, Repetitive or difficult to control seizures, Bowel ischemia/perforation, GI bleeding requiring surgery.

WARNINGS

Because of the severe adverse events which generally accompany Proleukin® (aldesleukin) therapy at the recommended dosages, thorough clinical evaluation should be performed to identify patients with significant cardiac, pulmonary, renal, hepatic, or CNS impairment in whom Proleukin is contraindicated. Patients with normal cardiovascular, pulmonary, hepatic, and CNS function may experience serious, life-threatening or fatal adverse events. Adverse events are frequent, often serious, and sometimes fatal.

Should adverse events, requiring dose modification occur, dosage should be withheld rather than reduced.

Proleukin has been associated with exacerbation of pre-existing autoimmune disease and inflammatory disorders. In some cases, the onset of new autoimmune diseases, such as vitiligo, may occur. Symptomatic hyperglycemia and/or diabetes mellitus have been reported during Proleukin therapy.

All patients should have thorough evaluation and treatment of CNS metastases and have a negative scan prior to receiving Proleukin therapy. New neurologic signs, symptoms, and anatomic lesions following Proleukin therapy have been reported in patients without evidence of CNS metastases. Neurologic signs and symptoms associated with Proleukin therapy usually improve after discontinuation of Proleukin therapy; however, there are reports of permanent neurologic defects. In patients with known seizure disorders, extreme caution should be exercised as Proleukin may cause seizures.

PRECAUTIONS

Patients should have normal cardiac, pulmonary, hepatic, and CNS function at the start of therapy. Capillary leak syndrome (CLS) begins immediately after Proleukin® (aldesleukin) treatment starts and is marked by increased capillary permeability to protein and fluids and reduced vascular tone.

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) treatment should be withheld for failure to maintain organ perfusion as demonstrated by altered mental status, reduced urine output, a fall in the systolic blood pressure below 90 mm Hg or onset of cardiac arrhythmias.

Recovery from CLS begins soon after cessation of Proleukin therapy. Usually, within a few hours, the blood pressure rises, organ perfusion is restored and reabsorption of extravasated fluid and protein begins.

Kidney and liver function are impaired during Proleukin treatment. Use of concomitant nephrotoxic or hepatotoxic medications may further increase toxicity to the kidney or liver.

Mental status changes including irritability, confusion, or depression which occur while receiving Proleukin may be due to bacteremia or early bacterial sepsis, hypoperfusion, occult CNS malignancy, or direct Proleukin-induced CNS toxicity. Patients should be evaluated for these and other causes of mental status changes. Alterations in mental status due solely to Proleukin therapy may progress for several days before recovery begins. Rarely, patients have sustained permanent neurologic deficits.

Proleukin enhancement of cellular immune function may increase the risk of allograft rejection in transplant patients.

Serious manifestations of eosinophilia involving eosinophilic infiltration of cardiac and pulmonary tissues can occur following Proleukin.

ADVERSE REACTIONS

The rate of drug-related deaths in the 255 metastatic RCC patients who received single-agent Proleukin® (aldesleukin) was 4% (11/255); the rate of drug-related deaths in the 270 metastatic melanoma patients who received single-agent Proleukin was 2% (6/270).

In clinical trials, the following life-threatening (Grade 4) adverse events were seen in >1% of 525 patients (255 with metastatic renal cell cancer and 270 with metastatic melanoma) treated with Proleukin: oliguria (6%), anuria (5%), hypotension (3%), respiratory disorder (3%), bilirubinemia (2%), coma (2%), diarrhea (2%), acidosis (1%), acute kidney failure (1%), apnea (1%), cardiovascular disorder (1%), coagulation disorders (1%), confusion (1%), creatinine increase (1%), dyspnea (1%), fever (1%), heart arrest (1%), infection (1%), myocardial infarction (1%), psychosis (1%), sepsis (1%), SGOT increase (1%), stupor (1%), supraventricular tachycardia (1%), thrombocytopenia (1%), ventricular tachycardia (1%), and vomiting (1%). From the same trials, the following adverse events (Grades 1-4) were seen in ≥30% of 525 patients (255 with metastatic renal cell cancer and 270 with metastatic melanoma) treated with Proleukin: hypotension (71%), diarrhea (67%), oliguria (63%), chills (52%), vomiting (50%), dyspnea (43%), rash (42%), bilirubinemia (40%), thrombocytopenia (37%), nausea (35%), confusion (34%), and creatinine increase (33%).

Please see the full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning, for Proleukin® (aldesleukin) for injection, for intravenous infusion.

The content contained in this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice related to any topic discussed. Patients are urged to consult with their treating physicians or other professionals. Never disregard professional, medical, or legal advice or delay seeking such advice because of something you have read on this website.