In 1999, when physicians diagnosed his mother, Walene Lutkewitte, with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive form of brain cancer, Sil began to research everything he could about GBM.
Through his research, Sil met Waldemar Debinski who was in the process of developing a drug therapy for GBM patients, an IL-13 base cytotoxin. Debinski and a team of others founded Targepeutics to commercialize this therapy and quickly found they were in need of assistance with business dealings. With Sil’s extensive background in business, he eagerly joined the team.
About 14 months after her diagnosis, in 2001, Walene passed away at the age of 66. And although his mother would never reap the benefits of Targepeutics’ therapy for GBM, that did not deter Sil from continuing his involvement with the company. As he says, “I can’t think of a better way to honor a family member than to be involved in helping make a difference to others that have faced those dark days.”
Not long after in 2003, the funds for Targepeutics dried up and it looked like the company would need to fold. However, Sil refused to give up hope and took over the helm of the company. With the continued development of the second generation IL-13 base cytotoxin, Sil is convinced that they finally have an effective drug for GBM. In fact, biotech companies and neurosurgeons around the world are begging for this drug to be put to use.
In 2008, Sil and his team met with the FDA and gained permission to begin the three phases of clinical trials. However, the phase 1 clinical trial cost ranges from $3.5 million to $4 million. And although Sil has raised $1.5 million from family and friends and $6.5 million in grants, they are still in desperate need for finances because every step of the way in developing and testing a drug is very expensive.
Sil has given everything to pursue his mission to bring GB-13 to GBM patients. Sil’s office consists of one room filled with filing cabinets. No one at the organization gets big salaries or benefits. As Sil describes it, “there are a lot of people pushing a big rock up a big hill who are helping us get this important drug to hospitals and people who need it.”
Unfortunately, even if clinical trials began today and all the funds were available, it would still take about four to six years before the drug could be used. Therefore, time is of the essence in making this drug available to patients who desperately need it. Patients like Sil’s mother, Walene Lutkewitte.
If you would like more information on Targepeutics or how you can help, please visit their website at http://www.targepeutics.com/.