Traditional longtime methods like radiation and chemotherapy could soon have some serious competition.
I’ve already covered some highly promising recent advances in cancer research – ones that could eventually stop the disease in its tracks.
However, until they’re ready for primetime, a new system from BSD Medical (Nasdaq: BSDM) is about to make radiation much more effective at giving cancer the boot. For good!
Turning Up the Heat in the Battle Against Cancer
BSD Medical has created a cancer-fighting machine that harnesses the power of “hyperthermia.” In other words, by boosting the body’s temperature.
Admittedly, the concept isn’t entirely new. Scientists have known the benefits of hyperthermia since the 1980s. Back then, however, they didn’t have the resources to target the heat toward specific areas.
Even in recent years, most hyperthermia techniques “do not treat tumors that exist more than a few centimeters below the surface of the skin; consequently, deep tumors remain unaffected,” according to Medgadget.
But BSD Medical’s system – called the BSD-2000 – works differently.
It sends a beam of electromagnetic energy (i.e. – microwaves) directly to the tumor site. These waves can be finely tuned to accommodate a tumor’s size, shape and location, meaning it can target tumors located deeper in the body.
If the idea of blasting the body with microwaves sounds a bit harsh, keep in mind that BSD Medical equates the level of heat to a “high fever.” This ensures that healthy tissue surrounding the tumor remains unscathed.
So how’s it able to damage something as stubborn as cancer? Let me explain…
Hyperthermia + Radiation = Goodbye, Cancer
After being exposed to high heat, the body needs to speed up blood flow in order to cool down.
That means tumors with “sluggish or irregular blood flow [are] vulnerable to destruction at high temperatures,” according to BSD Medical. So the BSD-2000 has the power to kill cancer cells independently.
The technology can be used in conjunction with standard radiation therapy, too.
As blood circulation in the zone around the tumor ramps up, more oxygen is pumped into the cancer cells. This, in turn, makes the tumor more sensitive to radiation.
To top it off, the process also “interferes with cellular repair of the DNA damage [to the cancer cells] caused by radiation.” In other words, not only does the BSD-2000 make tumors more vulnerable, it ensures that the cancer cells can’t heal or regain their strength after the radiation therapy.
End result: Hyperthermia trials have shown a 20% to 30% improvement in cancer suppression compared to using radiation treatment alone. And here’s the best part…
The FDA is Onboard
The Food & Drug Administration has just granted BSD Medical approval to sell the system in the United States.
Marketing efforts are currently limited to a small patient population – those with cervical cancer who are undergoing radiation, but aren’t eligible for chemotherapy. Just 4,000 patients in total.
However, when you consider that an estimated 4,210 women died of cervical cancer in 2010 alone, the technology could have a major impact on survival rates.
And the fact that the announcement earlier this week triggered a 20% spike in shares overnight shows that I’m not the only one who thinks so.