by Tom Parisi
Kishwaukee Community Hospital, NIU and a DeKalb urologist are participating in a unique collaborative research project investigating a potential treatment for bladder and prostate cancers.
The initial phase of the research is being funded by a trust established years ago at the National Bank and Trust Company in Sycamore. Monies from the trust are available to the hospital for the purpose of community cancer research, in accordance with the directives of the trust.
No patients will be directly involved in the study. Rather, the basic research will be conducted on cancerous tissue samples in a laboratory setting at NIU.
The researchers will explore the viability of using boron drugs, in combination with neutron capture therapy, as a way of effectively combating cancer while reducing treatment side effects.
The research project, which is already in its initial stage, is being led by NIU’s Narayan Hosmane, a world renowned boron chemist, and Dr. Sajit Bux, a board-certified urologist at DeKalb Clinic and member of the Kishwaukee Community Hospital medical staff.
Bux is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a newly appointed adjunct professor at NIU and a partner and board member at the DeKalb Clinic. He is working on the cancer research project on a volunteer basis.
Bux will help identify appropriate patients to provide consent to have their cancer tissue studied in the research. Patient participation is voluntary and anonymous. Experiments also will be conducted on tissue that can be purchased for research purposes.
“Prostate and bladder cancer patients represent a significant portion of my practice,” Bux said. “That’s why I wanted to collaborate with NIU to do more research on those particular cancers.
“The current prostate cancer treatments – whether surgery, radiation or seed implants – are equally effective in curing cancer. But all can have significant side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, which impact a patient’s quality of life. For most patients, these side effects have a devastating and debilitating psychological effect.
“Dr. Hosmane’s work is aimed at specifically targeting cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue,” Bux added. “It would be a significant breakthrough in treatment, helping patients to avoid complications and minimize or eliminate the side effects.”
NIU Biological Sciences Professor Linda Yasui, who has expertise in radiation biology, and the NIU Institute for Neutron Therapy at Fermilab also will contribute to the project.
“This is the first time in DeKalb’s history that Kishwaukee Community Hospital has collaborated with NIU on research involving cancer tissues,” said Brad Copple, hospital administrator. “While the hospital has been involved in cancer prevention and detection studies with the university in the past, this research is ultimately about potentially developing more effective treatment for prostate and bladder cancer.”
The research team will synthesize new boron drugs, inject the drugs into cancerous tissue samples and radiate the tissue with neutrons. The interaction between the boron and the radiation beam is designed to kill the boron-injected cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
The process, known as Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT), has shown some promising results with certain cancers in an initial clinical trial in Japan, Hosmane said. He has been working for well over a decade to advance BNCT and has received numerous awards for his research. In 2008 he was named as an NIU Board of Trustees Professor, the top university honor for excellence in teaching, research and outreach.
“This will be a unique study because no one has explored the use of Boron Neutron Capture Therapy with bladder or prostate cancer,” Hosmane said. “We’d like to show BNCT can be applicable in other types of cancer.”
Both graduate and undergraduate NIU students will be assisting in the research project. The team also is collaborating with Dr. Madhabananda Kar, a surgical oncology specialist in India.