- September 13, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject – Science and Tech
Context – Hot magnets that kill cancer cells while sparing healthy ones.
- Magnetic hyperthermia — generating heat in magnetic nanoparticles by applying alternating magnetic fields on them — has been an area of research in cancer therapy since the 1990s.
- The goal is to burn away cancer cells. Conventional treatments such as chemotherapy do that, but they also kill adjoining healthy cells, with severe side effects.
- Magnetocaloric materials — heat up when inside a magnetic field and cool when pulled out.
- The use of magnets in cancer treatment — ‘magnetic hyperthermia’ — has been explored earlier through clinical trials in China, Europe and the US.
- In conventional magnetic hyperthermia, magnetic nanoparticles are subjected to alternating magnetic fields (of a few gauss), which produces heat due to magnetic relaxation losses. Usually, the temperature required to kill tumor cells is 40-46 degree C. However, the drawback here is the lack of temperature control, which may damage healthy cells and cause side effects like increased blood pressure.
- Magnetocaloric materials, on the other hand, provide controlled and self-regulated heating. Moreover, they cool down as soon as the magnetic field is removed, unlike the magnetic nanoparticles, which remain overheated even after the removal of the magnetic field.
- ‘Curie temperature’ – the point at which magnetic materials undergo a change in their magnetic properties.
- The minimum temperature required for cancer therapy is 42°C.