ERIE -- He received a key to the city of Erie, where officials declared Saturday "John Kanzius Day," coupled with standing ovations from 700 people attending a symposium on his cancer research.
The honors and applause stem from hopeful news Mr. Kanzius and Dr. Steven Curley, a liver cancer specialist from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, provided a near-capacity crowd at the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center at Mercyhurst College.
Mr. Kanzius, a Washington County native, and Dr. Curley, who is conducting research on Mr. Kanzius' noninvasive Radio-Frequency-Induced Thermal Destruction of Cancer Cells, said research so far proves what the name suggests: Radio waves can heat nanoparticles and kill cancer cells.
With neither college nor medical degrees, Mr. Kanzius of nearby Millcreek built, owned and operated radio and television stations at Jet Broadcasting, based in Erie.
After being diagnosed with b-cell leukemia five years ago, and seeing the impact radiation and chemotherapies had on fellow cancer patients, he invented a procedure that uses radio frequencies from outside the body to heat up nanoparticles and other molecules inside the body to kill targeted cancer cells.
Dr. Curley has submitted two research manuscripts for publication and was unable to provide the latest results. But he said he is testing the treatment of human cancer strains in animals.
"I'm excited" with results, he said, describing the use of physics rather than medicine to kill cancer and saying it potentially will eliminate the harsh side effects of traditional therapies.
The next challenge is getting nanoparticles inside only the cancer cells, which Dr. Curley said is a feasible proposition for most cancers.
"This is the most exciting new therapy for cancer that I have seen in over 20 years of cancer research," he said.
After Dr. Curley's two-hour presentation, former Erie Mayor Joyce Savocchio of the Community United for a Cancer Cure announced its goal to raise $3 million in Erie County to fund research at M.D. Anderson and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Dr. Curley, who developed invasive radio-frequency devices to kill liver tumors, detailed a strategy to land U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to test the Kanzius protocol in humans.
He said he had never witnessed such overwhelming response to research as happened Saturday in Erie, where Mayor Joseph Sinnott, Erie County Executive Mark DiVecchio, Ms. Savocchio and Bishop Donald W. Trautman of the Catholic Diocese of Erie participated in the symposium. Officials vowed to try tapping Erie casino tax revenues to help fund the research.
Mr. Kanzius, 63, and Dr. Curley said Erie would be a site for phase two human clinical trials, once the FDA gives approval for such trials.
Because the procedure uses Mr. Kanzius' radio-frequency invention, they said upcoming medical journal articles could create initial demand for the equipment. If the procedure eventually gets full FDA approval, worldwide demand for the equipment could create a $10 billion industry in Erie.
Mr. Kanzius, who has been granted international patents for the entire treatment protocol, repeated what others described as a historic day in Erie.
"There's no reason to offer hope if what you are telling them is not for real," he said. "In this case, where there's smoke, there's fire."
David Templeton can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1578.