Michael D. Mueller, a Fayette native and part-year resident, is the first cancer patient in America to receive dicycloplatin chemotherapy. A recent follow-up – 22 months after diagnosis, surgery and chemo – found no evidence of regrowth of tumor.
“I am very relieved, of course,” Mike said. “But I am also very happy to contribute to cancer research. My mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 50. Her death was slow and very painful, in part due to the side effects of chemotherapy. My father had advanced prostate cancer when he died of other causes at the age of 81.”
[Editor’s Note: Mike’s parents were Don and Betty Mueller of Fayette.]
“But I am especially proud of my wife, Jing Jie Yu, a physician who has become the world’s leading dicycloplatin researcher, combining the areas of cancer genetics, molecular pathways, platinum drug toxicity, and patient response.” Dicycloplatin or DCP was developed in China and has been used to treat hundreds of patients there, sometimes combined with other anticancer drugs.
Mueller is the most thoroughly documented DCP cancer patient in the world. Diagnosed at West Virginia University Hospital, where the malignant bladder tumor was removed, followed by DCP chemotherapy at The People’s Liberation Army (301) Hospital in Beijing, with quarterly follow-up at WVU. He has an American oncologist and a Chinese oncologist, and has received DCP only since diagnosis.
WVU Hospital is located in Morgantown, West Virginia. It is part of a large medical complex that also includes a medical school, nursing school, and institutes specializing in cancer, heart & vascular disease, opthamology, and neurology.
Mike and Jing Jie moved to Morgantown in 2001 when Jing Jie accepted a faculty position in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. Prior to that she was a medical fellow at the NIH National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dicycloplatin is a platinum-based anticancer drug similar to the platinum drugs used in the United States and Europe: cisplatin, oxaliplatin and carboplatin. DCP was developed by Professor Xuqing Yang. Jing Jie and Mike met Professor Yang at a conference in Verona, Italy, in 2007.
DCP has been approved by the Chinese Food & Drug Administration but is only available at present in China’s military hospitals. A major clinical trial overseen by Dr. Shunchang Jiao is currently underway at the prestigious 301 Hospital in Beijing.
Mike’s symptoms first appeared a few weeks before his 65th birthday. “I noticed an occasional small blood clot in my urine. It gradually got worse. At one point, during a trip to London, I had significant bleeding at the hotel. Then it stopped, then began again. I made an appointment to see my doctor in Morgantown. That led to a scan and an appointment with an oncologist.
Bladder cancer is more common in men than women. It typically develops later in life. Smoking is the leading risk factor. Mike smoked cigarettes for 20 years; two packs a day.
WVU Oncologist Mohamad Salkini recommended BCG Immunotherapy, the protocol treatment worldwide for localized bladder cancer, in June of 2016 after Mike’s surgery. Immunotherapy is only effective 50% of the time, however, then it is on to chemotherapy.
“Cancer is vicious in my family,” Mike says. “And BCG sounded uncomfortable. I was aware that Jing Jie thought DCP might be an important new chemo drug. She had conducted research on DCP in her laboratory at WVU and I had helped with the journal articles.”
“In a manner of speaking, I bet my life on my wife’s intuition,” Mike likes to say.
Mike is a science writer with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in public health. He wrote for branches of the Federal Government in Washington and for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He attended Central Methodist University in Fayette and the University of Missouri at Columbia.
“After thinking it over, I decided to try dicycloplatin. Medical researchers in China describe DCP as effective with bearable side effects. Jing Jie did not attempt to guide my decision. She took charge, however, after I made up my mind. She called Professor Yang and Dr. Jiao.” Then it was on to Beijing.
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