Hyperthermia, or extreme-heat therapy, has remained one of the 'secret' cancer treatments, even though American president Ronald Reagan chose it to successfully treat his own cancer. But all that may soon change with a new study that not only demonstrates that hyperthermia reverses cancer, but also how it does it.
The therapy appears to trigger a healing cascade between tumours, even those that have not been directly targeted, researchers from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Center have demonstrated.
The researchers injected iron-oxide particles into tumours and activated them with magnetic energy to generate heat. P. Jack Hoopes, who developed the approach, said it enables very precise control of the temperature, which needs to be kept at a constant 43 degrees C (109.4 F).
The researchers targeted colon and melanoma cancer cells. The tumours either grew more slowly or disappeared completely, and the cascade effect was better seen in larger, primary tumours. A higher temperature was more effective in eliminating the cancer cell being targeted, but it didn't start the cascade.
Hyperthermia is an exciting new option to treat cancers that have spread to other parts of the body (metastatic), the researchers say.
(Source: Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, 2014; doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2014.02.003)