Magnetic hyperthermia is the ever-promising "fourth leg" of cancer treatment. This thermotherapy is based on the fact that magnetic nanoparticles can transform electromagnetic energy from an external high-frequency field to heat. As a consequence, if magnetic nanoparticles are put inside a tumor and the whole patient is placed in an alternating magnetic field of well-chosen amplitude and frequency, only the tumor temperature would rise. The elevation of temperature may enhance tumor oxygenation and radio- and chemosensitivity, thus shrinking tumors. As well, this experimental cancer treatment has also been investigated for the aid of other ailments, such as bacterial infections. The technique is also of great value in many other applications from drug-delivery in medicine to the polymer industry.
Numerous clinical trials worldwide have studied hyperthermia in combination with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. But up to now only the company MagForce AG has received EU-wide regulatory approval for treatment of brain tumors. Active research is done to test and develop this technique further. The benefits of the application of a nanotechnological approach, as compared to conventional treatments, are expected to be accompanied by a direct health service cost reduction and improvement of the quality of life of the patients.