Might it be that a former radio and television executive, with no background in science or medicine or even a college degree could help invent a cure for cancer?
60 Minutes profiled John Kanzius this past Sunday, April 13th. As improbable as it sounds, Kanzius and his radio wave machine is now the basis of leading research at the University of Pittsburgh and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in killing cancer cells.
It began after his own diagnosis of terminal leukemia six years ago. Since then, Leslie Stahl reports, he’s undergone 36 rounds of chemotherapy. But the painful side effects and looking into the eyes of sick children who were themselves undergoing chemo pushed him into a search for a cure.
“I saw the smiles of youth and their spirit broke. They were sort of asking why can’t they do something for me.”
One sleepless night after he began his third round of chemotherapy, Kanzius began his research into the creation of a radio wave machine he built with his wife’s pots and pans. His laboratory is now built in his garage. One box sends radio waves to another and creates light and heat, enough energy to light a fluorescent light. How could he focus those cells to target cancer cells?
The answer would cost him about $200,000 to build an advanced version of the machine with hopes of zapping a tumor with a focused beam of radio waves without destroying the surrounding cells. Kanzius has developed the machine and a business ThermMed LLC.
Kanzius shared his research with Dr. Steven Curley, a liver cancer doctor at M.D. Anderson.
“I’ve got to tell you, in 20 years of research this is the most exciting thing that I’ve encountered” Dr. Curley tells 60 Minutes Leslie Stahl.
Together they have built upon the research by Nobel laureate Richard Smalley into small cells called nanotubes that fit into cancer cells. Smalley was convinced nanotechnology would revolutionize cancer treatment before his death from cancer in October 2005.
Carbon nanotubes are cylinders of pure carbon that measure in nanometers or a billionth of a meter. Dr. Curley in his experiments has found that by infusing liver cancer cells and pancreatic cancer cells with nanotubes then exposing them to the radiofrequency, cancer cells were cooked to death.
So far it's worked in rat testing. In another four years human trials may begin.
John Kanzius spends his time now raising millions in research money and getting press coverage. Still suffering from leukemia he says he may consider a bone marrow transplant and even more chemotherapy to borrow some time because he’d “like to be around for the first patient and just have the smile.” #