We talked to Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, founder of the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation, about her inspiration for using laser-activated nanoparticles as a potential cancer treatment, and what this means for the future of cancer care.
What is special about your research and what does it mean for the future of cancer treatment?
My research is very different because I entered the field of cancer research as an outsider, without the traditional academic training of the people who normally design drugs or study cancer. I have an academic background and research experience in physics, lasers, nanotechnology, optics, high-speed internet, and satellites, instead of cancer biology. I also have the experience of being the primary caregiver for both of my parents who lost their lives to cancer -– one suffered from cancer after refusing treatment, and the other from the treatment side effects.
When I had the idea that a local treatment will reduce the suffering of cancer patients, all of my experiences as a physicist and caregiver inspired the features of the cancer treatment I developed. No one should have to say, “I would rather die than experience the side effects of cancer treatments.” In this day and age where we have mega computers in our pockets and purses, we should have a cancer treatment without life-altering side effects. Why not?
I developed a local, site-specific, multi-cancer platform therapy, designed to treat a variety of solid tumors (i.e., breast, prostate, head and neck cancers), using lasers and nanotechnology that are harmless without each other. Our cancer treatment has completely eliminated human tumors (in mice) in just 15 days after a one-time, ten-minute treatment without observed side effects, surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
What do you hope your cancer treatment helps to accomplish?
Because cancer charities raise over $1 billion per year, I reimagined this industry and started my own tech-based version to move beyond hope and help accomplish my goals for the cancer treatment I developed. The Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation @oraleeorg, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is on a mission to change the way cancer is treated and reduce cancer patient suffering by providing a treatment that is accessible, affordable, and effective. Raising money through my nonprofit allows me to ensure this technology will be affordable and accessible for all, locally and globally. No one should have to worry about how they are going to afford the care they need to be well.
In addition to raising funds through my nonprofit, I also have partial funding and support from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs through my academic appointment as an Associate Professor of Surgery at Morehouse School of Medicine. All of my inboxes are full of messages from cancer patients who need this treatment now but we are still raising the funds needed to obtain FDA approval and begin human clinical trials. With donations and grants, we have raised ~$5 million of the $10 million we need to begin human clinical trials and the $100 million we need overall. With more support, I hope my cancer treatment will shift the paradigm for how cancer is treated, how cancer patients are treated, and what is expected from cancer charities. I can’t reduce all human suffering, but this is one that’s within our reach with more funding.