The first step of the treatment is to precisely locate the tumour and inject it with tiny packets of magnetic nanoparticles. ‘If you’ve got a well defined tumour somewhere, you can simply squirt them into it,’ comments Kevin O’Grady, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of York. . . .You then use powerful magnets to repeatedly reverse the polarity of these magnetic particles
‘Every time you remagnetise a ferromagnet, you waste a certain amount of energy from your magnetic field,’ comments O’Grady. And this energy is lost as heat. . .Of course, if you have a single compact tumor, you can just cut it out, so I suppose this would be most useful for brain or other tumors where there would be real dangers to surgery.
‘Of course the nanoparticles are quite small and each generates an unmeasurably tiny amount of heat. But if you’ve got tens of billions of them, you can start to make the tumour warm up, and when you get the tumour above 45C, the cells die,’ explains O’Grady.