The Leuven-based medical tech company ElmediX has succeeded in raising €4 million to finance testing of a process which would allow cancer patients to be heat-treated in preparation for treatment for chemo- and radio-therapy.
The company, a spin-off from the university of Antwerp, has developed a technology which allows it to bring the temperature of cancer patients up to 41.5 degrees Celsius and maintain it at that level for a few hours.
The result of the so-called thermic therapy is that tumour cells are killed off, while healthy cells remain unaffected. At the same time, the susceptibility of the cancer cells to chemo- and radio-therapy is increased, boosting the immune system of the patient.
The secret of the therapy is that it not only kills off cancer cells directly, but also spares healthy cells, as well as boosting the immune system of the patient, which fights its own fight against the cancer.
“Our technology makes warm air circulate in the machine to warm the body up temporarily, while sensors in the patient monitor the patient to make sure things don’t become too warm,” explained ElmediX CEO Jean-Paul Bogers, also professor of cell biology at the university of Antwerp.
“Research has shown that the best effects come from a precise temperature of 41.5 degrees Centigrade.”
The normal body temperature of a healthy human being is around 37 degrees Celsius.
The therapy is for the time being not yet approved for use other than in the experimental phase. Some very localised therapies are approved, but not one to the extent of the ElmediX therapy, despite testing going back to 2020.
One reason for the delay: testing had to be paused as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The results in the first patients are promising,” said Professor John-Paul Bogers, CEO of ElmediX. “The confidence of our investors and the additional capital injection allow us to expand the first clinical trial and treat more patients. We are also developing a biomarker that can indicate in advance which patients and cancers have more chance of success.