Joanie April 16th, 2008
This is certainly exciting. But I have to say that it all reminds me a bit of the emperor’s clothes. If we can inhibit cancer once it has become life-threatening, what’s so hard about preventing it in the first place? This is a particularly important question for all those children in the cancer ward he mentions whose lives have barely started. I think that ultimately as a culture we’re going to have to be willing to change our lifestyle to truly eliminate cancer - the way we eat, drink, breathe, exercise. And until that happens…
THE KANZIUS MACHINE: A CANCER CURE?
CBS 60 Minutes
April 13, 2008
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What if we told you that a guy with no background in science or medicine –
not even a college degree — has come up with what may be one of the most
promising breakthroughs in cancer research in years?
Well it’s true, and if you think it sounds improbable, consider this: he did
it with his wife’s pie pans and hot dogs.
His name is John Kanzius, and he’s a former businessman and radio technician
who built a radio wave machine that has cancer researchers so enthusiastic
about its potential they’re pouring money and effort into testing it out.
Here’s the important part: if clinical trials pan out — and there’s still a
long way to go — the Kanzius machine will zap cancer cells all through your
body without the need for drugs or surgery and without side effects. None at
all. At least that’s the idea.
The last thing John Kanzius thought he’d ever do was try to cure cancer. A
former radio and television executive from Pennsylvania, he came to Florida
to enjoy his retirement.
“I have no business being in the cancer business. It¹s not something that a
layman like me should be in, it should be left to doctors and research
people,” he told correspondent Lesley Stahl.
“But sometimes it takes an outsider,” Stahl remarked.
“Sometimes it just — maybe you get lucky,” Kanzius replied.
It was the worst kind of luck that gave Kanzius the idea to use radio waves
to kill cancer cells: six years ago, he was diagnosed with terminal leukemia
and since then has undergone 36 rounds of toxic chemotherapy. But it wasn’t
his own condition that motivated him, it was looking into the hollow eyes of
sick children on the cancer ward at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
“I saw the smiles of youth and saw their spirits were broken. And you could
see that they were sort of asking, ‘Why can’t they do something for me?’”
Kanzius told Stahl.
“So they started to haunt you. The children,” Stahl asked.
“Their faces. I still remember them holding on their Teddy bears and so
forth,” he replied. “And shortly after that I started my own chemotherapy,
my third round of chemotherapy.”
Kanzius told Stahl the chemotherapy made him very sick and that he couldn’t
sleep at night. “And I said, ‘There¹s gotta be a better way to treat
It was during one of those sleepless nights that the light bulb went off.
When he was young, Kanzius was one of those kids who built radios from
scratch, so he knew the hidden power of radio waves. Sick from chemo, he got
out of bed, went to the kitchen, and started to build a radio wave machine.
“Started looking in the cupboard and I saw pie pans and I said, ‘These are
perfect. I can modify these,’” he recalled.
His wife Marianne woke up that night to a lot of banging and clamoring. “I
was concerned truthfully that he had lost it,” she told Stahl.
“She felt sorry for me,” Kanzius added.
“I did,” Marianne Kanzius acknowledged. “And I had mentioned to him, ‘Honey,
the doctors can’t — you know, find an answer to cancer. How can you think
that you can?’”
That’s what 60 Minutes wanted to know, so Stahl went to his garage
laboratory to find out.
Here’s how it works: one box sends radio waves over to the other, creating
enough energy to activate gas in a fluorescent light. Kanzius put his hand
in the field to demonstrate that radio waves are harmless to humans.
“So right from the beginning you’re trying to show that radio waves could
activate gas and not harm the human — anything else,” Stahl remarked.
“‘Cause you’re looking for some kind of a treatment with no side effects,
that’s what’s in your head.”
“No side effects,” Kanzius replied.
But how could he focus the radio waves to destroy cancer cells?
“That was the next $64,000 question,” Kanzius said.
The answer would cost much more than that. Kanzius spent about $200,000 just
to have a more advanced version of his machine built. He knew that metal
heats up when it’s exposed to high-powered radio waves. So what if a tumor
was injected with some kind of metal, and zapped with a focused beam of
radio waves? Would the metal heat up and kill the cancer cells, but leave
the area around them unharmed? He did his first test with hot dogs.
“I’m going to inject it with some copper sulfate,” Kanzius explained,
demonstrating the machine. “And I¹m going to take the probe right at the
Kanzius placed the hot dog in his radio wave machine, and Stahl watched to
see if the temperature would rise in that one area where the metal solution
was and nowhere else.
“And when I saw it start to go up I said, ‘Eureka, I’ve done it,’” Kanzius
remembered. “And I said, ‘God, I gotta shut this off and see whether it’s
still cold down below.’ So I shut it off, took my probe, went down here
where it wasn¹t injected. And the temperature dropped back down. And I said,
‘God, maybe I got something here.’”
Kanzius thought he had found a way attack cancer cells without the
collateral damage caused by chemotherapy and radiation. Today, his invention
is in the laboratories of two major research centers — the University of
Pittsburgh and M.D. Anderson, where Dr. Steven Curley, a liver cancer
surgeon, is testing it.
“This technology may allow us to treat just about any kind of cancer you can
imagine,” Dr. Curley told Stahl. “I’ve gotta tell you, in 20 years of
research this is the most exciting thing that I¹ve encountered.”
That’s because Kanzius impressed Curley with another remarkable idea: to
combine the radio waves from his device with something cutting edge — space
age nanoparticles made of metal or carbon. They are so small that thousands
of them can fit in a single cancer cell. Because they¹re metallic, Kanzius
was hoping his radio waves would them heat up and kill the cancer.
“If these nanoparticles work then we truly have something huge here,”
Kanzius told Stahl.
Enter Rick Smalley, another cancer patient at M.D. Anderson and the man who
won the Nobel Prize for discovering nanoparticles made from carbon. As luck
would have it, Dr. Curley was called in one day to examine Smalley. Before
leaving, he asked him for some of his nanoparticles.
“I proceeded to tell him what I wanted to do and that I thought they would
heat. He looked at me with sort of a studied long look and didn¹t say
anything. And then he looked at me and said, ‘It won¹t work,’” Curley
remembered. “And just laughed and said, ‘Well, look, I’ll give you some. But
don’t be too disappointed.’”
So Dr. Curley brought a vial of those precious nanoparticles to John
And on an August day in 2005, Curley and Kanzius put them to the test. Would
the metallic nanoparticles heat up enough to kill cancer?
“So we take the nanoparticles, we put ‘em in the radio field. And in about
15 seconds, they¹re boiling and heating and Steve Curley couldn’t contain
himself. He called Rick Smalley and he said, ‘Rick, you¹re not going to
believe this. He just blew the smithereens out of your nanoparticles,’”
Smalley’s response? “The only thing that I got out of him after this pause
was, ³Holy sS,’” Curley recalled.
Not long after that day, Smalley died of lymphoma. Once a skeptic, he had
become one of Kanzius’ biggest supporters.
“He didn¹t expect it, but he embraced it to his death bed when he told Dr.
Curley this will change medicine forever. Don’t stop, no matter what you
do,” Kanzius told Stahl.
And they haven’t stopped. They¹ve already shown that the Kanzius machine can
heat nanoparticles and cook cancer to death in animals. Dr. Curley with
rabbits, and in Pittsburgh, Dr. David Geller demonstrated to 60 Minutes how
he used nanoparticles, made from gold, to kill liver cancer cells grown in
“Now what we¹re going to do is inject the nanoparticles,” Dr. Geller
explained. “Directly into the tumor.”
In the study the rats, anesthetized to keep them still, were exposed to the
Kanzius radio waves. Dr. Geller later examined their tumors under a
“What you can see is that cells are starting to fall apart. You see white
spaces in between them. The body of the cell is shrinking, the cells are
starting to die,” Geller pointed out.
“And can you tell from this whether the area surrounding the tumor had any
destruction?” Stahl asked.
“Grossly inspecting the animal, we did not see not see any damage to the
surrounding tissue,” Geller said.
So far, the Kanzius method has only been applied to solid, localized tumors
in animals. The ultimate goal is to treat cancer that has metastasized or
spread to other parts of the body. Those undetectable rogue cells are what
most often kill people with cancer and the trick is finding them.
“If we can’t target the microscopic cells this is not going to be a cure,”
That¹s why Curley is trying to use special molecules that are programmed to
target cancer cells and attach nanoparticles to them.
He showed Stahl an animation of how he hopes the targeting will work in
people one day, with a simple injection of gold nanoparticles into the
“What we¹re seeing here is an example of a gold nanoparticle in this case
with an antibody on it, so the antibody would be the targeting molecule,”
Curley explained. “You can see it is tiny compared to a normal red blood
cell just imagine all of these billions of these gold nanoparticles
circulating through the body and then once they get into the blood vessels
going to the tumor, these nanoparticles would go through and bind on the
surface of the cell.”
“The cancer cell. It wouldn’t bind on a normal cell,” Stahl observed.
“That’s right, they would bind only to the cancer cell. Now here¹s the
nanoparticles in the cell, here comes John’s radio frequency treatment. The
cells get hot and they¹re destroyed,” Curley said.
“Gosh, it does look like one of those science fiction movies,” Stahl
“Right now it is a little science fiction,” Curley agreed. “We¹re not quite
to the real time yet, but it¹s got a lot of promise.”
Even if all goes well in the lab, it’ll be at least another four years
before human trials can start. But John Kanzius says he’s afraid he doesn’t
have that much time. So to help speed up the research, he’s been raising
millions of dollars and getting press coverage about his invention.
“Now I can’t count the number of times the journalistic community, has done
stories on a cancer cure,” Stahl said. “I did one in 1973. SHow many times
have we seen these things work in the Petri dish, work with animals. And
then you get them into humans and they don¹t work.”
“Dozens,” Curley replied.
But if this one does work, it most likely won’t be developed in time to help
the man who invented it. John Kanzius may have the option of a bone marrow
transplant that could buy him more time, but after six years of chemo it
would be another grueling ordeal.
“Did you ever say, ‘I¹m not going to do this anymore. I¹m not going to put
myself through it,’?” Stahl asked.
“Yes. I said that — only about a year and a half ago,” Kanzius replied. “I
changed my mind because I think with all the research that¹s going on with
the institutions, that maybe, I’d like to be around for the first patient to
get treated and just have a smile.”
“Oh my God,” Stahl said.
“And then I don’t care anymore,” Kanzius replied.
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Published by David Sunfellow