ECU student, others get patent for cancer killing molecule

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - An East Carolina University student doesn't even have his doctorate yet, and he already has his name on a patent.

Daniel Ladin is part of an ECU team that synthesized a molecule that could become a topical cancer killing agent.

Ladin is a doctoral student in the pharmacology and toxicology program at the Brody School of Medicine.

"We think this drug can offer an alternative approach as a chemotherapy agent and do it at low cost for the patients of eastern North Carolina," Ladin said. "We'd also like to use it as a way to reduce the amount of recurrence (following surgery). Sometimes when you get the tumor removed, it will grow back. What we want to do is make those margins a little bit smaller for the surgeon and also add this drug there so we can eliminate any stray tumor cells that we may not have gotten with the surgical procedure."

Other members of the team are Colin Burns and Allison Danell, associate professors of chemistry; and Rukiyah Van Dross-Anderson, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology.

ECU says Van dross-Anderson first identified the fatty acid molecule that could kill cancer cells. Then Ladin, Burns and Danell worked for a year making the molecules more complex until finding one that killed cancer cells without harming non-cancerous ones.

Ladin says they have a couple of more trials to do before moving to the next stop in getting a pharmaceutical company on board.