When it comes to finding new ways to kill cancer cells, researchers get creative. In a recent study in the British Journal of Cancer, an international team of researchers reports using low-intensity electromagnetic fields to shrink tumors, reports the Guardian's Robin McKie. Patients were given antennae to hold in their mouths to deliver the field to their bodies, and when administered three times a day in patients with advanced liver cancer, the therapy resulted in long-term survival for some of them, McKie says. In addition, while the therapy was effective at shrinking tumors, it left healthy cells unaffected.
The work started in 2009 when the researchers published research which showed that electromagnetic fields at frequencies of 0.1Hz to 114kHz halted the growth of cancer cells in some patients, and that different cancers responded to different frequencies. The latest study shows that the electromagnetic fields interfere with gene activity in cancer cells, McKie says, specifically their ability to divide and grow. "However, the scientists ... also stressed that the technique was still in its infancy and would require several years for further trials to take place," McKie adds. They've received permission from FDA to carry out larger trials.