FDA hopes nuclear medicine can cure cancer, treat Alzheimer’s

Published: Jun. 16, 2023 at 10:45 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Today, Josh Mailman travels to Washington D.C. twice a year to advocate for cancer patients.

But his world seemed much more limited when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 16 years ago.

“When I was diagnosed, I had a ten-month old, and I didn’t think I’d actually see him graduate first grade.”

Despite living with stage four cancer for 16 years, Mailman now travels the country,competes in races and coaches his son’s high school sports teams.

“I’m pleased to say that I actually watched him get his drivers license last month,” Mailman said.

Mailman points out he also has kept his hair.

Mt. Sinai Chief of Nuclear medicine Munir Ghesani said what allows patients like Josh to suffer less side effects than many receiving other treatments, is the fact that nuclear procedures can target cancer cells specifically, without harming healthy cells.

“Deliver your treatment at the highest level of concentration, to where it matters, and avoid going to the non-target areas,” Mt. Sinai Chief of Nuclear Medicine Dr. Munir Ghesani said.

Mailman was forced to receive his procedure in Germany more than a decade ago, but since then, the Food and Drug Administration approved more types of nuclear treatments have been approved for U.S. use.

FDA Director of Radiation Medicine Dr. Louis Marzella said radioactive treatments are safer than many assume.

“They are given in very low doses,” Marzella said. “We don’t expect, or really tolerate any reactions for radio-pharmaceuticals.”

Marzella believes nuclear treatments will continue making significant progress and sees potential to eventually treat Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“It’s an expanding area that offers great hope,” Marzella said.

Mailman says there needs to be more awareness about the nuclear treatments already available.

“The quality of life that one has using nuclear medicine is really very high.”