Wake Forest Discovery Going to Market

March 16, 2001

For a decade, investigators at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have been developing heated chemotherapy -- in conjunction with surgery -- as a method to treat certain types of advanced abdominal cancers. Through technology transfer, that method will soon be available nationwide.

The process, called intraperitoneal heated chemotherapy, has been extending the lives of patients for whom few treatment options are left. Though clinical trials involving use of the treatment are still underway at the Medical Center for abdominal and ovarian cancer, use of intraperitoneal heated chemotherapy is now the standard of care at Wake Forest for treatment of gastrointestinal and other tumors that have spread to the lining surfaces of the abdomen.

Five-year data show patients undergoing this treatment live longer and have a better quality of life.

Two years ago, Wake Forest licensed a Pittsburgh, Pa. company now called ViaCirQ Inc. to develop the process further, especially the machine to aid doctors in performing intraperitoneal heated chemotherapy.

Last year, the FDA cleared ViaCirQ to market the machine, which the company calls ThermoChemÔ HT System. The system raises the temperature of the intraperitoneal area to a maximum of 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit by continuously bathing the region with sterile solution.

This Friday, ViaCirQ will introduce its ThermoChem HT System at the 54th Annual Cancer Symposium of the Society of Surgical Oncology in Washington, where more than 1,000 surgical oncologists and general surgeons are expected to attend.

The ThermoChem HT System has been in use at Wake Forest and at one other hospital -- Zale Lipshy University Hospital, part of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"This is a perfect example of technology transfer, propelling promising research into the marketplace for the benefit of the public," said Spencer Lemons, director of the Office of Technology Asset Management at Wake Forest.

After surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible, patients are connected to a series of tubes and a pumping device bathes the abdominal cavity for several hours using powerful cancer drugs. The method permits direct contact of very high cancer drug concentrations with remaining cancer cells. Heating increases the effectiveness of the interaction.

The method was developed by Brian Loggie M.D., a surgical oncologist, and Ronald Fleming, Pharm.D. The project is now directed by Edward A. Levine, M.D., associate professor of surgical sciences/general/surgical oncology, with Samuel S. Lentz M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and section head of gynecologic oncology, directing the research into ovarian cancer.

"Ovarian cancer is an ideal malignancy for this type of treatment since it is typically an intraperitoneal disease for long periods of time," said Lentz. "Previous studies have proven intraperitoneal therapy to be effective in ovarian cancer. It is hopeful that intraperitoneal heated chemotherapy at the time of surgery will improve its efficacy."

ViaCirQ Inc. is a subsidiary of BICO Inc., formerly known as Biocontrol Technology Inc.


Contact: Robert Conn, Jim Steele or Mark Wright at (336) 716-4587

Media Relations