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Owego Company Develops Device to Treat Pancreatic Cancer

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The place that's been called the "coolest small town in America" could be home to a big breakthrough in pancreatic cancer treatment.

On Friday, Fox 40 met with officials from CPSI Biotech in Owego.  This team of bio/medtech development scientists has created a new anti-cancer technology device.  The team calls this medical advancement the FrostBite™ Cryoablation Platform.  Scientists say it is designed for personalized treatment to freeze tumors within a body's gastrointestinal tract. 

Pancreatic cancer falls into the category of gastrointestinal diseases.  Its diagnosis can be devastating.

“The five-year survival rate is less than five percent usually.  If you’re diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,  you’re looking at a six month to 12 month window before it becomes fatal,” said John Baust, president and lead scientist at CPSI Biotech.

According to Baust, because of the anatomy of the pancreas, the current clinical cryoablation approaches have been effective, but are limited to the types of tumors and location of tumors that can be treated.

The team says the application of its new device is very similar to a typical diagnostic for the stomach and would allow access to areas of the pancreas that other approaches cannot.  Basically, an ultrasound scope goes down a patient's throat.  On a catheter, a probe in an enclosed needle makes its way through the stomach wall and into the tumor.  Once in place, CSPI's Pressurized Sub-Cooled Nitrogen device is activated.  The temperature goes below -170°C.  Therefore, it's no surprise that this turns the tumor into what scientists compare to a very cold ice cube. 

Why is this "ice cube" so effective? 

“It ruptures cells.  It also activates biochemical and molecular pathways in the cancer cells after it thaws out that continue to drive cell death, tumor destruction, and an immune response over days to weeks after the therapy,” said Baust.

He adds that doctors would do follow-up evaluation after the procedure.

Baust, who has battled cancer himself with B-cell lymphoma, just finished treatment last September.  He says he knows first hand just how challenging it can be to go through chemotherapy and recovery.

For now, the team is waiting for its new technology to obtain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.  According to Baust, the group is working to raise the funds to submit trials for approval.  He says after this, the process could take a year.

Baust adds that his team plans to eventually expand the platform device to treat other gastrointestinal diseases including colorectal, stomach and esophageal cancers.

"I think it has the capabilities not just as a technology, but as an approach to revolutionize how we address health care moving forward,” said Baust.

He also says that his hope is for this medical advancement to eventually treat millions worldwide.     

According to a press release from the company, its current research results have been done in collaboration with a Johns Hopkins Medical group that has conducted a series of preliminary studies and with the assistance of a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

For more information, click here.