by Mary Lee
BERKELEY (KPIX 5) -- Researchers in Berkeley have unveiled a new cancer chemotherapy treatment that allows patients to avoid traditional side effects such as nausea and hair loss.
Among those at a press conference Tuesday hosted by the Berkeley Institute and the biotech group Alin Foundation was Academy Award-winning actor and cancer survivor William Hurt.
"It's a moment you only know when it happens to you," said Hurt, who was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer that spread to the bone.
"I didn't want to hear the word chemo out of your mouth. I had fought tooth and nail for five years to change my life so that word didn't happen to me," said Hurt. "Here it was and I was really upset."
Mae LeBlanc was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, just a year and a half after her husband died from cancer.
"Pancreatic is the granddaddy of cancers," she said. "It's a very agressinve, fast-moving killer."
Both LeBlanc and Hurt decided to try a new cancer therapy called Side Effect-Free (SEF) Chemotherapy, an alternative treatment without the traditional chemo side effects. They say it saved their lives.
"It gives you a whole spin on things when you're looking down the barrel of a loaded gun and then someone removes the ammo," said LeBlanc. "It gives you a different perspective."
Alin Foundation founder and lead researcher Dr. Kenneth Matsumura has been using SEF Chemo on humans for about 15 to 20 years, and says the longest survivor using the therapy has been in full remission for 12 years.
"A good scientist is skeptical so when I saw this incredible thing, I didn't believe IT," he said.
Matsumura explained his cancer therapy works by using traditional chemo and an FDA-approved chemical to protect white blood cells.
He claims the treatment will preserve the body's good neutrophils, a type of white blood cell essential to immune systems, so traditional chemo can target and only destroy cancer cells.
Matsumura does acknowledge his cancer therapy does come with opposition from the medical world.
"It is a real tough situation for drug companies," said Matsumura. "They're charging $150,000 for treatment."
A typical treatment using SEF Chemo costs about $16,000.
KPIX was not able find a single, independent, peer-reviewed study in any major medical journal on this cancer therapy, only a case study that he published himself.
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