TECH

Sci-Fi Anti-Cancer Cap Is Producing Impressive Results

It's an unconventional approach.

03/04/2017 13:56 | Updated 03 April 2017

An anti-cancer cap that generates an electric field has doubled the chances of brain tumour patients surviving for five years, according to a new study.

Participants who used the device while undergoing chemo had a 13% chance of survival over five years, compared to 5% of those who only had chemo.

“It’s out of the box” in terms of how cancer is usually treated, and many doctors don’t understand it or think it can help, Dr. Roger Stupp, a brain tumour expert at Northwestern University, who led the company-sponsored study, told AFP.

Novocure

The device, which costs $21,000 (£16,800) a month, has been developed by a Jersey-based company Novocure and is sold in the US, Germany, Switzerland and Japan to adults with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive cancer.

Used to treat patients following surgery or radiation, the device requires users to place strips of electrodes on their shaved scalp.

It’s designed to be worn for 18 hours a day, generates only a mild heat and can be covered up with a hat.

Novocure claims the alternating electric fields disrupt the way chromosomes line up, interfering with cell division and causing the cells to die, theoretically harming the disease rather than the patient. 

But Dr George Demetri of the the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute said the results showed a “modest” benefit. “It is such a horrible disease” that any progress is important, he told AFP.

It’s not the only unconventional brain tumour treatment in development. In January, scientists at Duke University revealed they had used genetically-engineered salmonella to combat glioblastoma in rats.

It delivered some pretty impressive results.

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