Treating cancer through radiowaves

Radio Frequency affects everybody. Signals on radio frequency connect your phone to a wireless speaker or heat your pizza in the microwave. Yet pinkRF has greater ambitions.A new collaboration between pinkRF and the Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) in Rotterdam should lead to breakthrough developments in the application of RF in Health. Klaus Werner, Director of pinkRF, has been interviewed by Novio Tech Campus.

When Klaus Werner, director at PinkRF, was working at NXP’s RF division (now Ampleon), he noticed the potential of a specific RF technology that was not yet being fully exploited, called solid state rf energy. “Solid state RF energy uses semiconductor devices to generate powerful radio waves. These waves can be used for applications in industrial heating, lighting and the automotive sector. One of the most well-known applications of RF is in microwave ovens. Where conventional ovens heat food through the irregular ‘beaming’ of radio waves through food (thus the rotating glass plate), new generation RF generators can effectively “target” the object that has to be heated and precisely control the temperature it is to reach. Although this is a great application, RF technology can do so much more, for example in healthcare.” 

The pink in RF

pinkRF is involved in various projects that can contribute to the fight against cancer. Werner: “An emerging cancer treatment procedure based on RF Energy is Hyperthermia. This application heats cancer cells in order to eliminate them. For this procedure, tumour-loaded tissue is heated to high fever temperatures of 40-43° using electromagnetic waves. Research has shown that these increased temperatures can damage and kill cancer cells while causing only minimal injury to healthy tissue. Hyperthermia is a supplementary treatment that is usually applied in combination with established cancer therapies like radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Breast cancer is one of the types of cancer treated with Hyperthermia. And because Pink Ribbon, as an organisation, dedicates itself to breast cancer patients, we have included this optimistic colour ‘pink’ in our name.”

Fighting cancer together

Werner proudly announces that pinkRF started a collaboration with the Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) since the beginning of 2019. “The EMC in Rotterdam developed a new applicator for Hyperthermia in the head and neck area that can be used for deeply located tumours in that region. At the moment pinkRF is developing a custom RF generator system that will be used for this and other Hyperthermia application at EMC. The system operates within the 433 MHz Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) band and consists of more than ten individual channels that can generate up to 200 Watt of RF output power per channel. Clinical trials have shown promising results so far and we are currently working to install the new system for treatment beginning of next year. 

Health and High Tech hotspot

pinkRF is located on Novio Tech Campus in Nijmegen (Netherlands). According to Werner, this Health and High Tech hotspot provides his company with the tools, support and network they need to establish their innovation. Werner: “The campus is an ecosystem of 70+ companies in Health and High Tech. Open innovation, that’s what Novio Tech Campus stands for in my opinion. Every second a new collaboration or idea emerges here, during one of the many (networking) events or when meeting someone at the coffee machine. The perfect foundation for an RF company to conquer the world.”