San Diego, CA--Thermal ablation isn't just for use on liver tumors. Ablation Technologies (San Diego, CA), a development-stage company, is in the process of developing the ThermoRod(TM) System, a system that ablates tumors with heat, but uses permanent implantable rods instead of insertable needles to treat tumors. The treatment is currently being tested for use on prostate cancer.
According to Clark Adams, president and CEO, the strategy is to raise the temperature of living cells to 47C, which causes DNA to unravel and protein to be destroyed. ThermoRod thermal rods made of cobolt and palladium are permanently implanted in the prostate in a procedure similar to the implantation of radioactive seeds. Each rod will heat 1 to 2 cm(super3) of tissue, so the prostate is loaded with rods 1 cm apart.
The patient is placed into a magnetic field called the ThermoTherapy System for one hour, which causes the biocompatible, temperature self-regulating thermal rods to heat up in accordance with the Curie principle to specific temperatures. Rods are available in 55, 60, and 70C versions. Each rod will only heat up to its predetermined degree, ±1.5 degrees. Patients may also undergo chemotherapy, depending on their individual conditions. The ThermoTherapy System causes no pain to the patient, Adams says.
Dr. Robert Tucker at the University of Iowa, a Ph.D. in biophysics and an MD in pathology, spent eight years developing these rods, experimenting with different blends of metal. His aim was to control the Curie point and therefore control the temperature, as the trick of any sort of induction heating like this is controlling the heat and avoiding meltdown, Adams says.
About 18 months ago, Ablation Technology was created to develop this technology. Phase I human trials have begun in Europe, and the company anticipates Phase II trials will begin there later this year, and possibly within the next 12 months in the U.S. The company hopes to meet with the FDA within the next few months.
"The technology has generated a tremendous, amazing amount of interest in the medical community," Adams says. "I've got a grocery list of applications that physicians are interested in. It opens up a lot of doors."