TMCnet News

Houston cancer center starts testing radio-wave theory
[November 25, 2005]

Houston cancer center starts testing radio-wave theory

(Erie Times-News (PA) (KRT)) Nov. 24--John Kanzius' quest to develop a new treatment for cancer has taken him to Houston, where researchers this week started testing his theory that radio waves can be used to destroy cancer cells.

Kanzius, a retired Erie radio and television station owner and Millcreek Township resident, came up with the radio wave theory while undergoing treatment for lymphoma in 2003.

The theory centers on the notion that radio waves can be directed at marked cancer cells and cause a heating effect that kills the cells.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center began testing the theory in animals in April.

But a new round of tests at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston appears to be putting Kanzius' theory on the medical fast track --and is prompting talk that the treatment might work on a wide range of cancers.

The latest round of research, which began this week, uses Kanzius' radio-wave concept in tandem with carbon nanotubes developed by Rice chemist Richard Smalley.

Smalley, who died in October after his own battle with cancer, is widely credited with creating the buckyball -- a carbon-based, soccer-ball-shaped molecule that was at the genesis of nanotechnology. The research won him the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1996.

Smalley believed nanotubes -- microscopic tubes known for their ability to conduct electricity -- can be heated when exposed to radio waves.

If the nanotubes can be attached to cancer cells, researchers say they might be able to destroy the adjacent cancer cells when they are exposed to radio waves.

The latest experiments in Houston are expected to prove whether that theory holds scientific weight.

"I think it has a huge amount of potential," Stephen A. Curley, M.D., a professor of surgical oncology at the MD Anderson Center, said in an August interview. "Now we just have to do the work and study it, to see if the potential is real or not."

Curley, who is leading the research at MD Anderson, was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for an interview, but he confirmed in an e-mail that the testing was under way, though researchers have not yet compiled meaningful data.

Kanzius, who was in Houston late last week to help the MD Anderson researchers set up the radio transmission equipment that will be used for the tests, said the project appears to be a high priority for the center's researchers.

"When you are around these people, you feel as though something big is going to happen," he said.

Kanzius, who does not hold a college degree and has no formal medical training, said he has been overwhelmed by the optimism shown by the MD Anderson researchers.

"It's hard to imagine 16 months ago that I'd be sitting in the mecca of the medical world," he said during a phone interview during his visit to Houston. "You're awestruck. You pinch yourself and wonder what the heck you are doing here."

As research begins in Houston, a UPMC research team led by David Geller, M.D., is continuing its work.

Geller, the director of UPMC's liver cancer center, has been directing the testing on liver tumors in lab rats.

The early tests in Houston, meanwhile, will focus on cancer cells in test tubes.

Researchers are hoping to prove that radio waves and nanotubes can work together to kill the test-tube cancer cells, Curley has said.

If they can prove that theory works -- a prospect that could come within a few weeks -- they would begin testing the theory on live animals.

[ Back To's Homepage ]