Caroline Maake is “Turning up the heat on cancer”

Caroline Maake (photo: Nathalie Huber)

A new kind of heat treatment could be an effective way of supporting cancer therapy. UZH’s Nathalie Huber describes in her article “Turning up the heat on cancer” how NOMIS scientist and professor of anatomy Caroline Maake is heating up tumors using naturally occurring nanoparticles, which has shown to eliminate cancer cells in animal models. Thanks to two funding projects, the UZH professor can continue to develop this promising approach and use it on horses suffering from tumors of the connective tissue.

Extended and repeated exposure to high temperatures, or hyperthermia, results in the cells activating stress proteins, which tell the body’s immune cells to target the sick cells. Even only a minor temperature increase, for example to 43 to 45°C, is enough to kill off cancer cells. The elevated temperature spreads through the tumor and sensitizes the tissue so that it better absorbs drugs or radiation.

Maake is co-leading with Edouard Alphandéry the project Mechanisms of the Anti-Cancer Activity Generated by Magnetosomes at UZH in Zurich, Switzerland. The project is exploring the therapeutic potential of magnetosome-based hyperthermia as an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment strategy for difficult-to-treat malignant diseases, such as sarcoma and glioblastoma, in animal and human patients.