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Published on October 02, 2009

NIU, KCH and DeKalb Clinic Unite Against Cancer

October 02, 2009 - By Dana Herra, Daily Chronicle

DeKALB – When Northern Illinois University chemist Narayan Hosmane went to a routine doctor’s appointment, he had no way of knowing it would lead to a first of its kind research partnership between the university and Kishwaukee Community Hospital.

Hosmane and Sajit Bux, a urologist on staff at both the hospital and DeKalb Clinic, are leading a project researching the viability of boron drugs in treating prostate and bladder cancer. The project, which is still in its earliest stages, is being funded by a trust that provides the hospital with money for community cancer research.

The two lead researchers met when Hosmane went to Bux for a routine prostate-specific antigen test, Hosmane said. After the test, Bux asked his patient what he did for a living.

“I said I worked with boron drugs for cancer treatment, and he was very excited,” Hosmane said. “He had done some lab research containing boron, and we talked about how there is no boron neutron capture therapy in bladder and prostate cancer.”

Boron neutron capture therapy involves developing boron drugs that are injected into cancerous tissue. The tissue is then radiated with neutrons, which react with the boron to destroy cancerous cells without damaging healthy tissue. The therapy has shown promise in treating other cancers and in an initial clinical trial in Japan, Hosmane said.

In a written release from the university, Bux said existing treatments for prostate cancer are effective in curing cancer, but all have side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, that can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life.

The research is still in a very early stage, Hosmane said, and does not yet involve live subjects. The drug-neutron capture combination is now being tested on cancerous tissue samples, he said. If it is successful, the project will move on to animal trials and then to human patients.

“If this works, I think it is going to be big news,” Hosmane said. “If it has side effects more than the other treatments, then it is not viable. Without doing the research, we can’t say if it is going to work or not.”

Because it has the trust available, the hospital is acting as a conduit for funding the research, most of which is taking place at NIU facilities. The hospital also helped Bux create paperwork for volunteers to anonymously donate their cancer tissue to the project, hospital spokeswoman Sharon Emanuelson said.

The hospital has worked with the university on past cancer research, but those studies focused on prevention and detection, hospital administrator Brad Copple said. This is the first time the hospital and university have teamed on a study involving a potential cancer treatment.

The project will also include contributions from NIU biological sciences professor Linda Yasui, the NIU Institute for Neutron Therapy at Fermilab and surgical oncologist Madhabananda Kar, according to a university news release.

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