MINIMA, or minimally invasive image-guided ablation, is the name of the new cancer therapy developed by researchers at University College London (UCL). This new treatment consists of a ferromagnetic thermoseed that, thanks to an MRI scanner, is capable of moving to a tumor, where it is heated remotely to kill nearby cancer cells.
This new therapy, whose development study has been published in the journal Advanced Science, has as its main utility the precise, effective and minimally invasive treatment of glioblastoma that is difficult to access, as well as other cancers such as prostate cancer. To achieve this, three components are needed: precise images of the magnetic seeds, a personalized MRI system with a precision of 0.3 mm that allows that seed to travel through the brain tissue, and heating of the seed to destroy the brain tumor. .
So far, the results in mice have been satisfactory. The tests were carried out by superficially introducing the spherical ferromagnetic thermoseeds made with a metal alloy and about 2 mm in size into the tissue. This method avoids having to perform open surgeries, which would reduce recovery time and the chance of side effects.
Very precise treatment
“MINIMA is a new MRI-guided therapy that has the potential to avoid traditional side effects by precisely treating the tumor without harming healthy tissue. Because the heating seed is magnetic, the magnetic fields in the MRI scanner can be used to remotely direct the seed through tissue to the tumor. Once in the tumor, the seed can heat up, destroying cancer cells and causing limited damage to surrounding healthy tissue,” said lead author Mark Lythgoe.
This therapy with thermoseeds and MRI could eliminate tumors precisely, avoiding open surgeries and reducing recovery time
Another of the main advantages of this procedure is that magnetic resonance scanners – which are easily found in any hospital to diagnose diseases such as cancer – allow images of the thermoseed and the tumor to be seen throughout the process, which means that the treatment be done as accurately as possible.
Regarding its use to treat prostate cancer, Mark Emberton, lead physician on the study, stated that “one in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. While treatments such as radiation therapy and surgery can be effective, they often cause unwanted and debilitating side effects, such as incontinence and impotence. MINIMA may allow us to precisely target and destroy prostate tumor tissue, reducing damage to normal cells.”