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Research Themes


  • Regenerative Medicine-Chronic pulmonary disease.

  • Neurodegenerative disease (e.g. ALS, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, ADHD, Autsim and other brain diseases). To review progress report of research on Alzheimer's, please download report.

  • Drug Discovery for Orphan (rare diseases)

  • Personalized Cancer Therapy Research.


The Institute has initiated a cancer research program to establish a new benchmark in cancer diagnosis, treatment and drug development. The research involves the purification and growth of cancer cells from fresh cancer tissue, which can ultimately be used to directly test chemotherapy and create cancer vaccines. The technology will create new milestones in personalized medicine for cancer patients. Cancer patients are subjected to some of the greatest challenges in healthcare. Chemotherapy has only modestly improved the 5-year survival rate by 2 percent for adult solid cancers. The healthcare system spends over $110,000 a year to treat a cancer patient with chemotherapy, four times the amount for cancer patients not receiving chemotherapy. It takes 12-15 years and over 1 billion dollars to bring a new cancer drug to market and there is a 95 percent failure rate associated with the process. Chemotherapy has serious side effects and is frequently administered without any rigorous testing to specifically identify which cancer drugs will be effective or not.


Fresh tissue samples from Mercy Hospital of Iowa City are presently sent to Cellular Engineering Technologies, an Iowa biotechnology company, for developing a personalized "cancer in a dish" subject for drug testing. Personalized cancer cells from patients can be subjected to current and emerging chemotherapy drugs to determine which drugs are effective or ineffective and at what specific doses for treatment. This technological ability has the potential to eliminate the risk that a patient will be subjected to chemotherapeutic drugs that may be ineffective at treating their specific cancer and could reduce the risk of drug toxicity through appropriate dosing of various chemotherapeutic drugs.


The Institute is recruiting patients and will coordinate clinical treatment and clinical research. Patients who are anticipating cancer surgery or diagnostic biopsies should contact the Institute and be further evaluated. Patients who are interested in providing their tissue or tumor specimens and become involved in the Institute's research efforts are encouraged to contact the John Paul II Medical Research Institute (call: 319-688-7367) to learn how they can participate in the program.


To review progress report of our research on personalized cancer therapy, please download report.

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