The touching story behind the aoh1996 cancer-curing drug


For those of us that haven’t heard about the new AOH1996 cancer drug, according to Wikipedia, “it is an experimental anticancer medication that acts as a small molecule inhibitor of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and is in Phase I clinical trials as of August 2023 for the treatment of solid tumors”.

Don’t worry, this article will not bore you with the science behind this groundbreaking drug but intends to tell the emotional story of how this drug came to be.

AOH1996 is named after Anna Olivia Healey, a 9-year-old cancer patient from Indiana born in 1996. Unfortunately, Anna died in 2005 after battling with neuroblastoma, a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells found in several areas of the body and is most common in infants and younger children.

Anna’s parents, Steve and Barbara Healey vowed to honor their child’s memory by finding a cure to beat this terrible disease.

Steve met Dr. Malkas after he was asked to take pictures of her for a newspaper article. It was through this meeting that Steve told Dr. Malkas about his daughter and how she had been battling with neuroblastoma for nearly half her life and the story inspired Dr. Malkas to switch from her initial research focused on breast cancer to research on neuroblastoma – an area that was believed to be undruggable.

Just months before Anna’s death, her father reached out to Dr. Malkas who then worked as an oncologist at Indiana University School of Medicine to help find a cure and even donated a sum of $25, 000 to help with research. Dr. Malkas pledged to do everything she could to tackle the disease. She spoke with numerous laboratories, but none were willing to dedicate the necessary time and resources.

After months of searching, she finally received a call from City of Hope in California, inviting her to a meeting to discuss the prospect of bringing her research to the institution. She joined the hospital in 2011 and began her research with the intention of helping children like Anna who suffered from neuroblastoma.

After almost two decades of research and testing, the drug has finally made it to Phase I clinical trial.

Dr. Malkas said, “We were too late to help Anna, but we could help others like her” She added, “I always say when you see me, there’s a small 9-year-old girl sitting on my right shoulder. She’s my touchstone”

Researchers and medical personnel are optimistic that the new drug could someday be a useful tool in combination therapies and in the development of new chemotherapeutics.

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