In hopes of eliminating the negative side effects of cancer medications, WTAMU Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Dr. David Kahn has spent years researching the delivery of liposomal-based chemotherapeutics.
The focus of his current study is to understand how citotoxic agents leak once they reach cancer tissue. The agents need to do this in order to fight the cancer and, according to Dr. Kahn, doctors have reason to believe these agent are leaking quicker than anticipated.
"Future drugs can be designed to be a little bit more stable," he stated. "A lot of these clinically approved drugs like Doxil have negative side effects such as myleosuppression, the body's inability to fight off infections and so forth. So, really, this study is really aimed to get a better understanding and potentially that will guide the field into maybe more stable systems."
Dr. Kahn said once more information is gathered about citotoxic agents, cancer medications can be altered to allow for fewer negative side effects.
Much progress has been made in cancer research over the years, but Dr. Kahn said there is still a long way to go.
"We've come a long way," he said. "I mean, if you look at the chemotherapeutics we have now, they're a lot more effective, a lot stronger drugs that we have today. Patients are able to get this treatment and live longer than, say, 40 or 50 years ago."
So, does that mean there is a cure in sight?
"One of the difficulties with cancer is different cancer cells will respond differently to different chemotherapeutics," Dr. Khan said. "So, to say that you have a cure for cancer- you know, generally these chemotherapeutics are really targeted to a specific type of cancer, not cancer in general."
Dr. Khan's grandmother died from breast cancer, and that motivated him to put in hours of research and years of dedication.
"Everybody on some level has been touched by cancer, including myself. So, not only is it interesting, but it's also very personal to me."