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Published: December 19. 2008 12:01AM
What It MeansResearchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston have proved they can target cancer cells exclusively and destroy them with John Kanzius' external radio-frequency generator. It clears a significant hurdle in proving the device can successfully treat cancer in humans.
Researchers have shown that they can target cancer cells with tiny pieces of gold and destroy the cells by using John Kanzius' external radio-frequency generator.
The success clears a major hurdle in proving that the Millcreek Township inventor's device can be used to successfully treat cancer in humans.
A scientific article about the targeting will be published today on the Web site of the Journal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology. The journal's Web site is www.oldcitypublishing.com/JETO/JETO.html.
Noninvasive radiofrequency field-Induced hyperthermic cytotoxicity in human cancer cells using cetuximab-targeted gold nanoparticles
Steven A. Curley, Paul Cherukuri, Katrina Briggs, Chitta Ranjan Patra, Mark Upton, Elisa Dolson and Priyabrata Mukherjee
abstract full text]
"I was pretty excited when the targeting happened," said Steven Curley, M.D., principal investigator for the Kanzius Project at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "It proves that this has the potential to work, and that it makes sense for us to continue pushing."
The published article is important because it gives the results scientific validity. Scientific journals including JETO contain articles that have been peer-reviewed to meet standards of quality.
The Kanzius Project has gained worldwide attention in the past 12 months. It has been featured on "60 Minutes" and CNN, and written about in major newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times.
The device works by sending radio waves into the body, which heat nanoparticles -- microscopic pieces of gold or carbon -- hot enough to kill the cancer cells in which they are placed.
But the biggest obstacle -- what Curley has called the "so what" question -- has been whether researchers can send the nanoparticles only to the desired cancer cells.
"This paper shows that we can target the surface of certain cancer cells," Curley said.
Curley and his research team did it by linking specific antibodies, or proteins, to the nanoparticles. The antibodies attach to the surface of certain cancer cells and are absorbed, but they don't attach to healthy cells.
Researchers tested pancreatic and colorectal cancer cells that easily absorb a particular antibody, cetuximab. They also used breast cancer cells that don't absorb the antibody as a control group.
Live cancer cells and the treated nanoparticles were placed in specimen dishes and allowed to incubate for 24 hours. They were then blasted with radio waves from Kanzius' device for two minutes.
The results: Nearly 100 percent of the pancreatic and colorectal cells were killed, but hardly any of the control group's cells were destroyed.
"It shows that we can target specific types of cancer," Curley said. "We're now working on other types of cancer cells, including breast, liver, prostate, leukemia and ovarian."
Curley said that he expects to finish writing "six to eight" more scientific manuscripts about Kanzius' device by mid-2009.
One of those papers is expected to be about tests done on blood samples involving Erie-area patients with blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
Blood samples were collected at the Regional Cancer Center earlier this year and treated with the RF device to determine if the radio waves killed all the cancer cells without harming healthy ones.
"We received the data, though it was a bit fragmented," Curley said. "The results are interesting, but we need more studies."
In addition to writing papers, Curley and his staff are conducting animal tests with Kanzius' device.
They hope to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration to begin human trials by late 2010. If human trials are approved, Curley has promised that Phase II trials would be held at the Regional Cancer Center, 2500 W. 12th St.
"We are right on target," Curley said. "We have a staff of nine, and we're looking to expand by another five people. I'm keeping them running."
Kanzius said he is confident the device will work on humans.
"This was a big step," Kanzius said in a telephone interview from his winter home in Sanibel, Fla. "If you look at this project as a puzzle, the targeting is the last piece. It's all downhill from here."
DAVID BRUCE can be reached at 870-1736 or by e-mail.