Technology & innovation

Siberian scientists sentence cancer to ‘electric chair’

22 Aug '13
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 year or so at a very competitive price.

The TUSUR 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 instrument uses direct current (DC) instead of hazardous microwaves, and the scientists said it “is unique both in Russia and elsewhere in the world.”

Within the next year or so 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.

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 claimed as early as last year that its device would be able to 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 said.

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.

The developer

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 three 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.
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Locations: Tomsk

Tags: cancer (63) / TUSUR (39) / direct current (0) / PromEl (0) /

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