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A boon for cancer, osteoarthritis patients

Jul 12, 2005
The Hindu
By Sahana Charan

BANGALORE: This therapy could turn out to be a breakthrough in tissue engineering and a boon for cancer and osteoarthritis patients.

The Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) of the Indian Air Force and the Bangalore-based Centre for Advanced Research and Development (CARD) have taken up a project to study the efficacy of high-power electromagnetic beams in the treatment of end-stage cancer.

Of the 50 terminally ill cancer patients with whom the project was initiated in July 2004, 35 have survived so far. Of these, 20 patients have gone back to work. All these patients were given only a few weeks to live and had been sent home as their condition was untreatable.

The patients had also suffered side-effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy such as pain, loss of hair and appetite. Unlike these treatments, the new method is non-invasive and painless.

"The results have been very encouraging," said Wing Commander V.G. Vasistha, Head of the Department of Radiology at IAM and Principal Investigator of the project. Rajah Vijay Kumar of CARD is the co-investigator.

CARD has developed a device "cytotron," with technical support from the IAM, which can deliver high-intensity quantum magnetic resonance beams (as is done in an MRI machine) from 288 specialised guns that are focussed on a particular tissue.

Through a new method called "Rotational Field Nuclear Quantum Magnetic Resonance (RFQMR)," the beams are used to alter cell division so that the cells either multiply or cell growth can be arrested.

According to Wg. Cdr. Vasistha, in the case of cancer, the beams are controlled electronically to arrest the rapid multiplication of cells and destroy the tumour, by adjusting it to a specific frequency.

In patients with osteoarthritis, the beams are targeted at the affected part (the knee) for a particular number of exposures that produces a signal to regenerate cartilage.

"We are conducting phase 1 of the clinical trials wherein only cancer patients who were terminally ill were chosen. They had exhausted all other treatment modalities such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and RFQMR was the last resort for them. Another criterion was that the tumour had to be localised for the beams to target the particular tissue, to destroy it. We have used the therapy for treating various cancers, including lung, brain, liver, stomach, ovary, pancreas, oesophageal cancer," Wg. Cdr. Vasistha said.

One of the patients, who is an ENT specialist, came to the IAM with a brain tumour in October last year.

He had earlier been operated upon and part of the tumour was removed. Even during radiotherapy, the tumour continued to grow and the patient suffered from paralysis. After being exposed to RFQMR beams, the tumour was arrested and he has resumed his practice, Wg. Cdr. Vasistha said.

The patients are exposed to the beams for one hour every day for 28 days. Almost all the patients had relief from pain in a few days.

Osteoarthritis project
Earlier, the IAM had initiated a project to treat 120 patients suffering from osteoarthritis. After being treated with RFQMR, all the patients experienced pain relief in just five exposures and could walk for some distance. The findings of this project has been documented and published in a scientific journal, Wg. Cdr. Vasistha said.