The world of medicine listens when Dr. Joseph DeSimone of UNC-Chapel Hill speaks. Time and again, he has had something significant to say.
Now, DeSimone and a research team have made a finding that could save thousands of lives.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease, often because diagnosis comes too late for surgery. Tumors, by the time they are found, have connected to major organs and blood vessels.
But DeSimone and the team at UNC-CH have created a device that, through 3-D printing, could help by using electrical fields to put chemotherapy drugs directly into tumors, giving more patients a chance at surgery. And with the chemo drugs going straight into tumors, the harsh side effects of the drugs elsewhere in the body might be lessened.
DeSimone, who has made many groundbreaking discoveries in the treatment of cancer, avoids dramatic gestures or pronouncements. That is his way.
While advancements in treatments have been made, pancreatic cancer still has the same 75 percent mortality rate within a year of diagnosis that it had 40 years ago. This advancement might well change that.
The research has been used successfully on animals. DeSimone and his team hope to begin clinical trials with human subjects next year. As is the case with past research at UNC-CH and Duke University, the Triangle once again demonstrates it is the center of important research.