This is a fascinating field in cancer treatment. While various electro-magnetic-wave-based solutions have been proposed during the past century to treat cancer, only recently this treatment strategy started to gain momentum as both academia and the industry started to recognize the value. In this context, field based solutions for cancer treatment have even been approved recently by FDA to treat specific types of tumors.
While the electro-magnetic-waves-based solutions are of many types, including many highly relevant categories, in this section I will focus on the portable devices only and like always capture solutions that have both shown positive outcomes in humans and are also accessible to most of us (which is the case for at least one of the devices discussed below, i.e. ECCT).
First, here is a little about why such solutions are effective: Today it is well accepted that electric/electro-magnetic fields are interfering with the process of fast dividing cells and this subject has been covered multiple times in the famous magazine Nature (e.g. see Ref). Specifically, the fields exert directional forces on polar microtubules and interfere with the assembly of the normal mitotic spindle. Such interference with microtubule dynamics results in abnormal spindle formation and subsequent mitotic arrest or delay, possibly due to improper attachment of chromosomes to the spindle fibers. Cells can die while in mitotic arrest, or if the progression to cell division still takes place the abnormal daughter cells can die in the subsequent interphase, can undergo a permanent arrest, or can proliferate through additional mitosis where they will be subjected to further tumor treating fields assault. http://www.nature.com/articles/srep18046 So there are various points where the fields can interfere with the cell division. Next to that, I believe that another relevant action of the fields is via their interference with ion dynamics which is a highly relevant process in the fast dividing cells.
When applying fields to interfere with cancer cells the frequency for the applied field matters. On this line note that:
– patients with the same tumor type had biofeedback responses to the same frequencies, irrespective of their sex, age, or ethnic status http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19366446/
– Frequencies identified as relevant for cancer cells were predominantly found above 1 kHz.
– Although the specific findings and subsequent hypotheses differ, the literature strongly suggests that exposure levels to EMF can impact Ca2+ flux; however, the biological significance of these fluctuations remains unclear and the demodulation mechanism leading to changes in Ca2+ flux has not yet been elucidated http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3845545/
In this field, I am aware of three major devices that have been applied in clinical trials and demonstrated effectiveness against various types of cancers:
- ECCT (Electro-Capacitive Cancer Therapy) from CTech Labs Edwar Technology Company
- Optune from Novocure Ltd.
- OncoBionic from Therabionic solution
Of these devices ECCT is the most accessible device and the results are very promising.
Here is a short summary on each of them based on the limited information I have:
Status and application: This is a device made by the Indonesian company CTech Labs Edwar Technology. ECCT (Electro-Capacitive Cancer Therapy) is a method for treating cancer using low intensity and low frequency source of electro-static waves that generate electric polarization in near field region confined by a number of capacitive electrodes embedded in apparels to wear daily by the patients. The technology was invented by Dr. Warsito P. Taruno and his team in Indonesia. Here is the Facebook page as well https://www.facebook.com/EdwarTechnology/
The devices and usage: Principally, the ECCT consists of the apparel as a support of the capacitive electrodes and oscillator to generate electric wave with certain intensity, waveform and frequency. The ECCT specification for treating cancer is determined by the coverage of the apparel, the frequency, the intensity and waveform of the oscillator, and the time of usage of the equipment that correlate to time exposure of the cancer to electrostatic wave. For complete removal of the cancer, the apparel design is essential in the treatment method, and must be customized according to the tumor position and its staging. In principle, the coverage of the apparel is divided into two types: global coverage for metastasize prevention and local customized coverage for total destruction of the primary tumor. The apparel can be designed in the following forms: a jacket, a head cover, a blanked to be used e.g. during sleeping hours. The frequency, intensity and waveform of the oscillator, and the time of usage are determined based on the grade of malignancy of the cancer, the pathology anatomy and the electric properties of the cancer cells. In general, the higher the level of the staging and the higher the degree of the malignancy the more responsive of the cancer to the electric wave and thus the less time needed for exposure as the body has limited capacity to absorb and the resulted dead cells. So for example for <1cm tumors the usage is of 6—8 hours per day and usually it takes 3—6 months to completely clean up the tumors while for >5cm tumors the usage is 4X30 minutes per day depending on the condition of the patient. The usage time for brain cancer treatment is set started with very short time, e.g. 4X15 minutes per day, and increased gradually with the improvement of the clinical conditions of the patient. (Ref).
Results: very good results for many types of tumors including breast, brain, lung, etc. See http://www.c-techlabs.com/brosur/ECCT_Brosur_Eng_New_Small_2015.pdf and the You Tube movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir_5o4Imqz4
Side effects: Unknown
Cost: Cost is in the range of few to several k USD (and that it is yours, i.e. not rented) so it is the most accessible devices out of all discussed here.
Access: This is the most accessible device as it can be obtained directly from the manufacturers. After sending the medical files the apparel will be designed according to the tumor location to be treated or as a maintenance device to minimize the chance for tumor recurrence or metastasis. The best is to travel to the manufacturer location for the most personalized design of the apparels.
Technical details: ECCT (Electro-Capacitive Cancer Therapy) is a method for treating cancer using low intensity and low frequency source (frequency <100KHz and intensity of <30Vpp) of electro-static wave that generates electric polarization in near field region confined by a number of capacitive electrodes embedded in apparels to wear daily by the patients. The technology is invented for the first time by Dr. Warsito P. Taruno and the team in CTech Labs Edwar Technology Company (IDN Patent REG P00201200011, 2012)
Patents related to ECCT: 3D AND REAL-TIME ELECTRICAL CAPACITANCE VOLUME-TOMOGRAPHY: SENSOR DESIGN AND IMAGE RECONSTRUCTION https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2006102388&recNum=154&docAn=US2006010352&queryString=SGK&maxRec=620
Status and application: This is a portable device made by the Israeli company Novocure. It has been recently approved by FDA for Glioblastoma and is in clinical trials for multiple types of cancers including those of lungs, ovarian and pancreatic. Here is the Novocure Pipeline: http://www.novocure.com/our-pipeline.aspx
The devices and usage: Essentially the devices consists out of electrodes placed in direct contact with the skin in the region surrounding the tumor inducing an alternating electric field within the tumor that attracts and repels the charged components of the cells during mitosis. The complete delivery system includes a portable electric field generator and rechargeable batteries and it is designed to be worn continuously throughout the day and night. The design is such that it will allow patients to go about their daily activities while receiving treatment. The minimum number of hours recommended to patients is 18 hours per day. http://www.optune.com/
Results: In a phase III trial on glioblastoma, it has been concluded that efficacy and activity with this chemotherapy-free treatment device appears comparable to chemotherapy regimens that are commonly used for recurrent glioblastoma. http://www.ejcancer.com/article/S0959-8049(12)00352-8/abstract
Here is an extended overview on the results with Optune http://astrocytomaoptions.com/electric-field-therapy-novo-ttf/
Side effects: Dermatitis (rash) beneath the transducer array has been the most common side-effect.
Cost: As of December 2014, treatment with the Optune device cost $21,000 per month, with many patients receiving treatment indefinitely, or until tumor recurrence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternating_electric_field_therapy
Access: Treatment Centers http://www.optune.com/find-treatment-center/list.aspx
Technical details: The generated fields are low-intensity (1–3 V/cm) intermediate-frequency (100–300 kHz), alternating electric fields and the optimal frequencies of the system seems to be in the range of 150Hz to 200Hz http://www.nature.com/articles/srep18046/tables/1
Mitotic Spindle Disruption by Alternating Electric Fields Leads to Improper Chromosome Segregation and Mitotic Catastrophe in Cancer Cells http://www.nature.com/articles/srep18046
Status and application: This is a device made by the US company Therabionic solution. Dr. Boris Pasche had worked for years with a battery-operated device to treat insomnia, but as he followed his research, he discovered that electromagnetic radiation from the apparatus might slow or stop tumor growth in some cancer patients. Although the technique is relevant for most types of cancers, Therabionic seems to focus on Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC).
The devices and usage: In 2009, Pasche and his colleagues published results in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research which showed that low-level electromagnetic fields at precise frequencies – ranging from 0.1Hz to 114kHz – halted cancer cell growth in small numbers of patients. Different cancers responded to electromagnetic fields of different frequencies. Cells in surrounding, healthy tissue were unaffected. The anti cancer effects can be essentially applied to any form of cancer. The procedure is such that first a biofeedback is used for the identification of tumor-specific frequencies that can then be applied to selectively influence cancer cells. (Ref.) Patients hold the mouthpiece in their mouths but are free to carry on other activities such as reading, watching TV and walking while receiving treatment. The frequencies were emitted sequentially, each for 3 s from the lowest to the highest frequency, and the cycle was continuously repeated for 1 h. Treatment was administered 3 times a day, i.e., for a total of 3 h. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3845545/
– Already in 2009 the results were promising: “Thirteen patients were evaluable for response. One patient with hormone-refractory breast cancer metastatic to the adrenal gland and bones had a complete response lasting 11 months. One patient with hormone-refractory breast cancer metastatic to liver and bones had a partial response lasting 13.5 months. Four patients had stable disease lasting for +34.1 months (thyroid cancer metastatic to lung), 5.1 months (non-small cell lung cancer), 4.1 months (pancreatic cancer metastatic to liver) and 4.0 months (leiomyosarcoma metastatic to liver).” http://jeccr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1756-9966-28-51
– phase I/II study on HCC: Treatment was well tolerated and there were no NCI grade 2, 3 or 4 toxicities. In all, 14 patients (34.1%) had stable disease for more than 6 months. Median progression-free survival was 4.4 months (95% CI 2.1-5.3) and median overall survival was 6.7 months (95% CI 3.0-10.2). There were three partial and one near complete responses. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21829195/
Side effects: Four of the 69 (5.8%) patients enrolled in these two studies had grade 1 somnolence after treatment and 1 had grade 1 mucositis (1.4%). There were no grade 2, 3, or 4 toxicities in any patient, even among very long-term users. No changes in complete blood count, kidney function, or hepatic function were observed in any patient. Importantly, this therapeutic approach has long-lasting therapeutic effects in several patients with metastatic cancer. Two of these patients, one with recurrent thyroid cancer metastatic to the lungs (Figure 4) enrolled in our feasibility study (Barbault et al, 2009) and the patient shown in Figure 3C, are still receiving treatment without any evidence of disease progression and without side effects almost 5 years after being enrolled in these studies. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3188936/
Access: contact http://www.therabionic.com/contact.html
Technical details: Generation of amplitude-modulated electromagnetic fields: the device consists of a battery-driven radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic field generator connected to a 1.5 meter long 50 Ohm coaxial cable, to the other end of which a spoon-shaped mouthpiece made of steel is connected with the inner conductor. The RF source of the device corresponds to a high-level amplitude-modulated class C amplifier operating at 27.12 MHz. The modulation frequency can be varied between 0.01 Hz and 150 kHz with a modulation depth of 85 ± 5%. The output signal is controlled by a microcontroller AT89S8252 (Atmel, Fribourg, Switzerland), i.e. duration of a session, sequence of modulation frequencies, and duration of each sequence are programmed prior to the treatment with a PC connected to the panel of the device. The RF output is adjusted to 100 mW into a 50 Ohm load using a sinusoidal modulated test signal, which results in an emitting power identical to that of the device used in the treatment of insomnia. The following frequencies were common to most patients with a diagnosis of breast cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer: 1873.477 Hz, 2221.323 Hz, 6350.333 Hz and 10456.383 Hz. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672058/
A total of 1524 frequencies ranging from 0.1 to 114 kHz were identified during a total of 467 frequency detection sessions (Table (Table1).1). The number of frequencies identified in each tumor type ranges from two for thymoma to 278 for ovarian cancer. Overall, 1183 (77.6%) of these frequencies were tumor-specific, i.e. they were only identified in patients with the same tumor type. The proportion of tumor-specific frequencies ranged from 56.7% for neuroendocrine tumors to 91.7% for renal cell cancer. A total of 341 (22.4%) frequencies were common to at least two different tumor types. The number of frequencies identified was not proportional to either the total number of patients studied or the number of frequency detection sessions (Table (Table11). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672058/
Patents related to OncoBionic: Electronic system for influencing cellular functions in a warm-blooded mammalian subject http://www.google.com/patents/EP1974769A1?cl=en Disclosed is an electronic system activatable by electrical power. The system is useful for influencing cellular functions or malfunctions in a warm-blooded mammalian subject. The system comprises one or more controllable low energy HF (High Frequency) carrier signal generator circuits, one or more data processors or integrated circuits for receiving control information, one or more amplitude modulation control generators and one or more amplitude modulation frequency control generators. The amplitude modulation frequency control generators are adapted to accurately control the frequency of the amplitude modulations to within an accuracy of at least 1000 ppm, most preferably to within about 1 ppm, relative to one or more determined or predetermined reference amplitude modulation frequencies
Treating cancer with amplitude-modulated electromagnetic fields: a potential paradigm shift, again?
Cancer cell proliferation is inhibited by specific modulation frequencies
Targeted treatment of cancer with radiofrequency electromagnetic fields amplitude-modulated at tumor-specific frequencies