Chemotherapy May Have Met Its Match

Virginia Tech engineers introduce thermotherapy as a chemotherapy alternative

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Researchers from Virginia Tech and a colleague from India have unveiled a new method to target and destroy cancerous cells using hyperthermia.

The treatment uses hyperthermia to elevate the temperature of tumor cells, while keeping the surrounding healthy tissue at a lower degree of body heat. In vitro and in vivo experiments confirmed the investigator’s findings. To further perfect the technique, researchers used ferrofluids (liquid that becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field) to induce the hyperthermia.

“These fluids can then be magnetically targeted to cancerous tissues after intravenous application,” said Ishwar Puri, professor and head of engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech. “"The magnetic nanoparticles, each billionths of a meter in size, seep into the tissue of the tumor cell due to the high permeability of these vessels.”

The magnetic nanoparticles are heated by exposing the tumor to a high frequency alternating magnetic field, causing the tissue's death by heating, in a process called magnetic-fluid hyperthermia – or “thermotherapy.”

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Review Date: 
November 23, 2010
Last Updated:
November 25, 2010