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Killer Waves

Novel cancer treatment uses microwaves to trigger cell death

Images of radio waves

Fluorescence images of dye-stained live (green) and dead (red) cells treated with just TiO2, just microwave activation, and a combination of both.

Physicist Wei Chen believes he’s found a new way to treat cancer cells. He and a team of international collaborators recently published a paper in Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine advancing the idea of using titanium dioxide nanoparticles stimulated by microwaves to cause the death of cancer cells without damaging healthy cells around them.

Called microwave-induced radical therapy, the new method centers on reactive oxygen species (ROS), a natural byproduct of the body’s metabolism of oxygen. Using light to activate ROS can be challenging for the treatment of tumors deeply located within the body. In contrast, microwaves have the ability to create deeper penetration that moves through all types of tissues and non-metallic materials.

“This new discovery is exciting because it potentially creates new avenues for treating cancer patients without causing debilitating side effects,” Dr. Chen says. “This targeted, localized method allows us to keep healthy cells intact so patients are better equipped to battle the disease.”

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