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New therapy treats cancers without damaging healthy cells

Published on 19 October 2017 back to previous

After years of animal testing, researchers at Penn State have developed a therapy to treat some of the most resistant cancers without damaging any healthy cells.

Now, that treatment is in the early stages of testing on humans.

James and Bernadette Adair are both scientists and researchers at Penn State University. Married 27 years, they've loved doing everything together, except battling cancer. Bernie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.

"We were still dealing with me when Jim was diagnosed," said Bernadette.

Doctors found Jim's colon cancer in 2008. Both were treated, and are now cancer-free. Ironically, even before his or his wife's diagnosis, James had been working to develop a new treatment for cancer through nanotechnology; manipulating cells at the molecular level. It's called ceramide nanoliposome.

"It was at that time an experimental chemotherapeutic that had unique properties," James said.

The ceramide nanoliposome is infused into the body. Because of the tiny size and structure, the nanoparticles travel easily through the body and can slip into tumors, killing the deadly cells and leaving healthy cells intact. Jim formed a separate company, Keystone Nano, to continue the research, especially for cancers that have few other effective treatments, like liver cancer.

"The animal models have shown great efficacy against that cancer," said Jeff Davidson, CEO of Keystone Nano.

"Kill the cancer, do no harm to the patient. To someone like me who is a cancer survivor. That's awesome," said James.

A development that's a decade too late for Jim and Bernie, but may help countless cancer patients live full lives down the road.

The therapy has been approved by the FDA for phase one clinical trials at three United States institutions: the Greenebaum Cancer Center of the University of Maryland, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of Virginia Cancer Center. Researchers are testing the dosing levels on cancer patients for whom other therapies have not worked.

If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at
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