12 Apr '12
Oleg Kouzbit, Online News Managing Editor
Scientists from Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radio Electronics (TUSUR) have harnessed direct current (DC) powers to treat cancers. The new Siberian device is believed to enhance radiation and chemotherapies while holding back their known side effects. The instrument is expected to hit the market within the next two years at a very competitive price.
According to TUSUR, its research team has developed an innovative hardware and software complex that enables local hyperthermia, an induced physical condition that helps cancer therapy but has been difficult to properly create so far.
The scientists say their instrument that uses direct current (DC) instead of hazardous microwaves “is unique both in Russia and elsewhere in the world.” With three patents already under its belt the university has applied for certification of the device and is ready to soon move to early clinical trials.
Within the next two years project managers hope to launch commercial production of their compact state-of-the-art instrument on the premises of regional instrument-making factories. With its market price estimated to be about $33,000 healthcare authorities across Russia can look forward to a considerable saving; they currently have to purchase bulky machines that are more than ten times the price.
According to the Russian Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development, as of late 2010 2.8 million people, or 2% of Russia’s entire population, had various cancers (the most current data available). In the Tomsk region alone, a local healthcare authority reports that 2010 cancer incidence was 394.9 cases per 100,000 population, up 6.1% from the 2009 results and higher than the Russian average.
How it works
Microwave radiation, a technique designed to cause a controlled rise in body temperatures and most widespread in Russian oncology today, generally fails to reach tumors that are located deep inside the human body. The Tomsk university claims its device can focus thermal energy on a malignant growth no matter how hidden it is from existing instruments’ view.
Unlike microwaves that expose both patients and medical staff to harmful electromagnetic fields, the new TUSUR approach unleashes the powers of direct current to heat a tumor up to 43-to-45 degrees Celsius and make it extremely susceptible to further healing impact of radiation or chemotherapy as a result. In other instances the exposure to DC kills a neoplasm even before any conventional therapy is added. Healthy tissue remains intact in the process, the developers say.
The Tomsk Oncology Research Lab, a local branch of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences collaborating with TUSUR in this and other biomed programs, completed animal testing and reported that the combination of new DC treatment and traditional radiation and chemotherapies improves the methods while considerably reducing chemical agent doses and radiation exposure. Adverse side effects typically associated with the therapies are substantially mitigated and in some cases altogether averted, Lab specialists said.
Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radio Electronics is one of Siberia’s largest higher educational establishments and a Tomsk leader in commercializing lab research.
In addition to developing hardware and software for healthcare the university focuses on a range of other sectors that need advanced solutions, including chip-making, metering systems development, circuit engineering for both wind and solar energy and power electronics, and some other areas.
For this DC complex project TUSUR set up two years ago a special company, PromEl—a possibility that came in 2009 with new federal policy allowing universities to do technology-related business and retain IP rights for their innovation. One of more than 20 spin-off companies spawned by TUSUR since 2009, PromEl was then funded by unidentified private investors and also granted $16,600 support from the Tomsk region.