The next step in turning John Kanzius' cancer-killing dream into reality sits in a Millcreek Township laboratory.
A new, larger version of the late Millcreek inventor's external radio-frequency generator is finished and will be shipped in January to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
This fifth-generation device is big enough for M.D. Anderson researchers to use on larger animals and humans.
"It can support up to 800 pounds," said Charlie Rutkowski, plant manager at Industrial Sales & Manufacturing, the Millcreek company that manufactures the Kanzius devices.
Members of Therm Med, the company Kanzius created to promote his invention, unveiled the new device at a news conference Tuesday morning at ISM.
Kanzius' device works by emitting radio waves that heat and kill cancer cells targeted with nanoparticles, microscopic pieces of gold and other metals that are injected into the bloodstream.
The device has been proved to kill pancreatic cancer cells in live mice without harming healthy tissue.
A larger device was needed before Kanzius' invention could be tested on humans, lead researcher Steven Curley, M.D., has said. The earlier devices can only accommodate petri dishes and small animals like mice and rabbits.
Tests must be performed on larger animals, such as pigs, before the Food & Drug Administration approves clinical trials for humans. Therm Med has not formally approached the FDA to request clinical trials.
"This will mean we can begin large animal modeling studies that will be necessary to understand the RF dosing and treatment times in patients," Curley said Tuesday in an e-mail. "(I) can't comment on the time to clinical trials, that is up to the FDA."
Curley has waited several years for a larger device. One reason its development has taken so long is that Kanzius died from cancer-related pneumonia in February 2009.
Another reason is that the RF field generated by the larger device -- where the animal would be placed for treatment -- was not as uniform as it needed to be. It was doughnut shaped, Curley has said.
"This device is ready," said Mike Nelson, co-chief executive of Red Wind Innovations, which has been contracted by Therm Med to develop a business plan for the device. "Research of this nature takes capital and it takes time."
Nelson would not say how much it cost to build the newest Kanzius device. It is currently the only fifth-generation device. Work has begun on a sixth-generation model.
Besides being large enough to treat large animals and humans, the newest Kanzius device is also easier to operate, Nelson said.
Earlier versions must be fine-tuned constantly. The fifth-generation device is more automated.
"We are thinking about the caregivers who will be using this device," Nelson said.
Kanzius' widow, Marianne Kanzius, attended the unveiling. She said Therm Med has reached a research contract with one major research center and is negotiating with two others.
"This is the business end of John's dream," said Marianne Kanzius, who is Therm Med's managing partner. "I know John would be pleased with how things are going."
Published in the Erie Times-News on December 21st, 2011 - http://www.goerie.com/article/2011312209910