Thermal therapy is the application of external heat to the body to fight cancer cells. In contrast to local or regional thermal treatment, whole body thermal treatment (WBTT) raises the patient’s entire body temperature and is therefore the only thermal treatment modality that has the potential to act both on the primary tumor and distant metastases.
However, WBTT carries potential risks for toxicity when applied without accurate temperature monitoring. ElmediX has developed a medical device, Tempocure®, to overcome this risk and deliver long-term controlled and accurate WBTT at 41.5°C. The safety of the device and thermal treatment protocol was initially evaluated in minipigs.
A clinical study conducted by ElmediX presents the confirmation of tolerability of WBTT in elderly dogs with advanced cancer. WBTT was administered in combination with a reduced dose of radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Dogs form an ideal model for cancer in humans. Because of a long-time parallel evolution of the two species, the canine and human genome show much greater similarities compared to the murine genome.
Additionally, canine patients have an intact immune system and are exposed to much of the same environmental risk factors. All these factors show that strong similarities exist between dog and human cancers and therefore the dog patient is a viable surrogate species for the conduct of safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy in human clinical trials.
Dogs with advanced and/or metastatic cancer were treated with thermal therapy in combination with a reduced dose of standard of care treatment. The evolution of clinical parameters indicated the safety of the treatment and the improvement in quality of life.
Thermal sensors in liver, rectum, and tumor confirmed a homogeneous heating of these body parts. The monitoring of clinical parameters showed acceptable and reversible changes in liver, cardiac, muscle and coagulation parameters, as expected. Combination of WBTT with both radiotherapy and chemotherapy only caused some low-grade adverse events.
WBTT seems to be promising as an adjuvant cancer therapy for several reasons.
In addition, the adjuvant effect of chemotherapy has been attributed to the ability of systemic thermal treatment to modulate the tumor microenvironment through increased blood flow and vessel permeability, decreased negative interstitial pressure, and modulation of the extracellular matrix architecture.