MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Researchers at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center are being credited tonight with helping create a drug that can treat certain types of lymphoma.
Dr. Eckhard Podack started the research that led to the drug while studying the immune system in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
“What I was particularly interested in is what is the killing molecule, how is the killing done,” Dr. Podack explained. “I wasn’t looking to cure lymphoma; I wasn’t looking at Hodgkin’s. I was looking at very basic mechanisms used by the immune system, and by doing so I found this antibody.”
The antibody targeted a molecule on some cancer cells. Seattle Genetics genetically engineered the antibody for human use and combined it with a cell killing agent to create a drug that kills cancer cells but not healthy tissue.
That drug was approved by the FDA in August.
The Interim Director of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center called the drug “a gigantic breakthrough” for people with Hodgkin’s lymphoma or anaplastic large cell lymphoma who haven’t been helped by traditional treatment.
“To take someone who has been disabled by disease; who has been losing his battle with disease; and to completely turn that situation around with an experimental drug the genesis of which is based by research by Dr. Podack in this center is a true home run,” said Dr. Joseph Rosenblatt.
Cancer patient, Archie McNealy says it’s the first drug that’s been effective in his seven year battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“To be honest, it’s a blessing that’s how I feel,” McNealy said.