Kanzius’ radio frequency 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 proven to kill pancreatic cancer cells in live mice without harming healthy tissue but a larger device was needed before Kanzius’ invention could be tested on humans. The earlier devices can only accommodate petri dishes and small animals like mice and rabbits. The announcement of the larger device was made in Erie, Pennsylvania last week by Marianne Kanzius, widow of Sanibel islander John Kanzius who died two years ago of a rare form of leukemia. Marianne Kanzius is managing partner of Thermed LLC, the company formed by John Kanzius to develop the technology. The new machine is a fifth generation model. Development of the larger machine is necessary before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can approve human trials for the device. “It can support up to 800 pounds,” said Charlie Rutkowski, plant manager at Industrial Sales & Manufacturing, the Millcreek, Pennsylvania company that manufactures the Kanzius devices.
Besides being large enough to treat large animals and humans, the newest Kanzius device is also easier to operate. Earlier versions must be fine-tuned constantly. The fifth-generation device is more automated. Rutkowski said work is already underway on a sixth generation device. Tests must be performed on larger animals before the FDA approves clinical trials for humans. Thermed has not formally approached the FDA to request clinical trials. Lee Memorial Health System is one of five designated locations for human trials. Stephen Curley of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston said last week, “This (larger machine) will mean we can begin large animal modeling studies that will be necessary to understand the RF (radio frequency) dosing and treatment times in human patients.” He could not comment on the time to human clinical trials indicating they are bound by FDA guidelines but human trials are estimated to be at least two to three years away. In an interview last week with The Erie Times Marianne Kanzius said Thermed 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,” she said. “I know John would be pleased with how things are going.” Kanzius began working on the technology after he was diagnosed with cancer.
His death two years ago threatened to derail the project but the positive results of research have kept it alive and thriving.