Cancer is one of the most threatening health issues we are facing today. In the United States alone, an estimated diagnosis of cancer reaches the number of 1,7335,350. And out of this million of people, 609,640 cancer patients will fall to their demise.
Photo | PDpics
Believe it or not, Cancer is not a new disease, in fact, it has been around since 1600 BC. And since its existence, a lot of treatment was developed to cure this invasive and aggressive disease. Cancer patients can opt to go for a surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy, and even chose to try organic and herbal medicines in hopes of extending their numbered days.
In order to triumph over this deadly disease, scientists are unceasingly developing drugs that could finally cure cancer!
One of these drugs is BXQ-350 by Bexion Pharmaceuticals of Covington Kentucky. The promising and innovative drug discovered by Xiaoyang Qi is made out of human protein that attacks cancer cells without harming healthy cells! The BXQ-350 may just be the cancer cure we are all waiting for!
The life-changing discovery of a cancer-killing drug!
Back in the year 2002, in a busy laboratory at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, a genetics researcher named Xiaoyang Qi was studying the effect of human protein on mice. When he peered into his microscope, he was in for a surprise. To his amazement, the protein had fused to the walls of cancerous cells, killing the malignant cells, while the healthy cells were left unaffected.
Impressed by his discovery, he couldn’t forget it. So for years, he did nothing but fiddle with proteins, building a new molecule that kills cancer cells no matter what variety of cancer it is.
Fast forward to year 2006, at Xavier University, Qi discussed his research with Dr. Kevin Xu, a senior research scientist at Procter & Gamble. Seeing its great potential, Dr. Xu shared the data with a P&G colleague, Ray Takigiku, who found the discovery as “mysterious, curious, and interesting.”
The people of P&G thought that Qi’s discovery has a promising potential in developing a cure for cancer, and decided that it is worth the risk of a lifetime. Afterwards, they went to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to license the invention and to get the seed money they needed. They transferred from P&G to Bexion Pharmaceuticals and named the miraculous drug after its creator, Xiaoyang Qi, and called the drug as BXQ-350.
Meet Bob Rulli, the first human who participated in the experimental phase of the promising cancer cure!
Bob Rulli, a 66-year-old man whose always been passionate about love, was diagnosed of Brain Cancer. Back in 2013, standing at 6″1, with a built of 215 pounds, no one would have guessed that he has brain cancer. Despite his healthy physique and demeanor, the noticeable dark void with a size a bit bigger than a golf ball seen in the MRI scan of his brains, tells a different story.
In his 66-years of existence, he rarely suffered from cold. “Half a Tylenol, and I’m good.” Rulli shared. He led an active life, pursuing golf as his hobby. Hence, when a year after he retired from designing aircraft engines, he was shocked to be diagnosed with cancer.
According to the gentleman, it all started from the strangest pain in his head. Two months after, he found out that he is suffering from glioblastoma multiforme, a rare and aggressive brain cancer. According to the doctors, he only has 17 months to live, with a less than 10 percent chance of living up to 5 years.
“I was mad,” Elise, Bob’s wife said, “mad at the world.”
Unlike his wife, Bob liked his odds of survival. With a positive mindset and a courageous heart, he believed he will live beyond his deadline. “I really did think somehow, we’ll beat the 17 months.”
Just like most cancer patients, Bob tried chemotherapy and brain surgery. However, instead of curing his cancer, the MRI scan showed even more progression, and so he went for another operation to sow radiation seeds in his brain.
Though the treatment did not entirely stopped cancer, he managed to live beyond his 17 months. And every time he is recovering, Bob always played golf to keep his spirits up!
“We still tease him as much as we ever did,” said Dave Bertke, Rulli’s long-time friend, attesting to his positive mindset. “Bob is an easygoing guy, he really is. Water runs off his back. I don’t know anyone who has something as serious as he does and is so calm about it.”
However, come late summer of 2016, his brain tumor surged once again. This time, Bob and Elise consulted Dr. Richard Curry, a TriHealth brain-cancer neurologist who introduced the experimental drug to Bob.
“If it’s successful, then it’s a fairly big step,” Bob Rulli said. “Even if it’s not successful, it’s still a big step. It’s something that would give someone three to six months, to a year, a year and a half. That’s not small potatoes.”
Setting the wheel into motion!
As if the universe is working in favor of Rulli, the FDA cleared BXQ-350 for Phase I trials in human beings. The purpose of a Phase I trial is not to treat nor cure humans. The real goal is to find out the highest dose of drug that will be safe and tolerable for humans. For people with the most severe disease, a Phase I trial may be their last hope.
“It’s a nod to how toxic cancer drugs are,” Takigiku says, “that you can only do the Phase I in patients who are, in effect, terminal. Yet you want them to be healthy enough so that you don’t have to wonder too much about the side effects. Is it the drug, or the disease, or something else?”
To run the Phase I trial, Bexion pharmaceuticals partnered with CTI, a medical consultant company that specializes in trials for drugs to treat rare diseases. Soon after, CTI Chairman, Timothy Schroeder ran the first phase on four sites namely, the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute, Ohio State University, the University of Kentucky, and the University of New Mexico, where Dr. Olivier Rixie was a principal investigator.
Another specialist overseeing the UC leg was Dr. John Morris, director of the head, neck and thoracic program who is also a hardened veteran of cancer-drug trials. According to Dr. Morris, it is very important to keep a critical eye on the experiment.
Bexion, like many small pharmaceutical firms, could not run the Phase I trial on its own. So the company contracted with medical consultancy CTI, founded in Blue Ash, Ohio, which specializes in trials for drugs to treat rare diseases. “You always look at it with a jaundiced eye. I take a very neutral position. I make sure the trial is well-designed. This trial was well-designed.”
The monthly dose of infusions!
On the month of September 2016, Rulli spend the day at UC for his first dose of treatment. Dr. Morris and Dr. Draper stayed with Rulli to watch out for alarming reactions. Fortunately, Rulli had none and felt more than okay. And so for the next 19 months, Bob Rulli or Patient No.1, got his monthly infusion. Each month, the dose slowly goes up to the maximum allowed dose under the Phase I protocol. As a result, the MRI scan showed his brain cancer shrinking in size.
Through the course of his 19-month infusion, Rulli was able to enjoy his favorite sport, golf, for three times a week. He was even able to share rounds of beers with his beloved friends and family.
By the spring of 2018, Rulli outstretched his 17-months up to 4 and a half years. Despite of being able to outlive his deadline, Elise, Bob’s wife, cannot deny the fact that his brain cancer had taken a toll on him. Bob’s cancer messed-up with his short-term memory. “I have to remind him three times where we’re going, what we’re doing,” she admitted. “Half the battle is staying positive.”
Come March 2018, the MRI scan indicated that his tumor had grown. And so, until they knew more about what’s happening, the doctors took Rulli off his infusion. Rulli admitted that this event disheartened him, “I thought they meant, ‘Well, you failed. Now you’re gone.”
On the other hand, the doctors working with Rulli were not affected by what the MRI scan had indicated. Indeed, the scan suggested a new growth of cancer cells, however, the primary tumor was smaller. To be sure of what was happening, Rulli had to undergo another operation.
To their surprise, the cancer was not gone but it was stable. Moreover, the new tumor shown in the MRI scan was nothing but a pocket of dead cancer cells! “I always thought the drug would work,” Elise said with a smile. “He was never sick the whole time with cancer, and I just thought it would work in him. The way he got through the other procedures, I thought he would get through it.”
Dr. Bradbury Skidmore of the Mayfield Brain and Spine neurology practice, said that while he is happy for Rulli’s promising progress, for those familiar with cancer, Rulli is above the norm. In fact, he is not a norm. ” As a scientist, when you see one out of the norm, you know that doesn’t solve all the problems.” Dr. Skidmore explained how Rulli’s positive outlook played an important part on his victory over cancer.
The result so far…
After 19 months of the Phase I trial, of the 17 patients with cancer in the brain, lungs, pancreas, prostate, colon, ovary, and appendix, no one had an alarming experience with BXQ-350 infusions. 7 patients lived for at least 3 more months, and 2 patients saw disease improvement.
In the case of Rulli, or Patient No.1, the result reads, “… measurable lesion reduction over time.”
Now, Brexion Pharmaceuticals is planning for Phase II trial to commence, to measure the efficiency of BXQ-350 on any solid tumors in adults. The same company is also planning to start the Phase I study in children. If the FDA gives them the go signal, one of the pediatric sites that will host the trial will be Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the place where 16 years ago, Xiaoyang Qi made his life-saving discovery!
Although the results of Phase I trial seems promising, it is still too early to arrive at a conclusion. The BXQ-350 still has a long journey to go through. “God’s honest truth is: We just don’t know how it works,” Dr. Takigiku admitted. “We’re going to find out, I hope.” Still, the people behind BXQ-350 are hopeful that this wonder drug will be able to give patients a winning shot against all forms of cancer.
Meanwhile, for Bob Rulli was cleared to resume his infusions of BXQ-350, and a day after, Rulli, a man full of hope and positivity, ended the day with a friendly game of golf with his supportive and beloved family and peers!
Watch the video below to learn more about Bob Rulli’s battle against brain cancell and how BXQ-350 may just be the wonder drug that could save us all from the life-threatening cancer!
Photos and Video | University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati.com