The anticipation has been building for a decade. The wait has been frustrating for people diagnosed with cancer and for their loved ones. But now there is good news about the potential for John Kanzius' cancer treatment to move from the research lab to human trials.
One week ago, Mark Neidig Sr., executive director of the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, buoyed the hopes of everyone with a stake in the fight against cancer with two simple words about the Kanzius invention: "It works." Neidig was referring to large-animal test results for the Kanzius device, which attacks cancer cells with external radio-frequency waves. Medical trials show that the treatment kills cancer cells and tumors in pigs, without dreaded side effects.
"It does not cause heating of normal tissues," said Steven Curley, M.D., of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Curley is the lead researcher on the project. "Test subjects are having no side effects or toxic effects from the RF treatment."
The next step is to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test the treatment on humans for safety. The FDA is expected to hear the proposal for human testing in 2014. If the FDA gives the OK, human trials would start in 2015. This could mean a Phase 1 trial, using radio waves with nanoparticles, or a pilot study, in which the radio-wave treatment would be combined with chemotherapy.
Either way, the research is advancing, and that's a tribute to John Kanzius, who patented the radio-wave technology, and to Curley, who listened to the concept that Kanzius outlined when he was ill with an aggressive form of leukemia.
Kanzius wasn't a medical doctor or a scientist, but he was a critical thinker who used his expertise as a radio engineer to envision a new way to zap cancer cells. Curley saw potential in the logical argument that Kanzius put forth -- that radio waves could be directed in a precise fashion to kill cancer cells without destroying healthy cells.
Kanzius understood personally why cancer patients are driven to search out pioneering treatments. He knew firsthand about dreaded side effects from conventional cancer therapies. That's why the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation publicizes the Kanzius treatment as a "better way" to fight cancer. It could have been a challenge to keep the momentum going to raise money for research, especially after Kanzius, the original patient-inventor, died in 2009 from pneumonia related to his illness. "I made two promises to John before he died," Curley said. "One was to bring his device to human trials. The other was to conduct human trials (Phase 2) in his hometowns of Erie and Sanibel (Fla.)," Curley said.
Kanzius invented his device almost 10 years ago. "It's taking much longer than I thought it would," Curley said. In 2010, there was word that human trials might begin in 2013. The time frame has been adjusted, but we look forward to hearing "it works" about human trials.
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