Hyperthermic Cancer Therapy as a Novel MRI Tool

Current methods for radiofrequency tumor ablation therapy often induce cancer cell death while sacrificing healthy cells that surround the tumor site. Photothermal therapy technology generates heat upon stimulation to destroy only targeted cells, eliminating deleterious effects to healthy, normal cells, a feature not observed in standard chemotherapies. This technology represents the first method of combining thermal ablation and a specific tumor cell-targeting modality to produce cancer cell death with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) capabilities.

Invention Summary

Researchers at Wake Forest University and Wake Forest School of Medicine have collaborated with researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Together, they have developed a highly effective, targeted hyperthermic cancer therapy that directly destroys cancer cells to reduce tumor growth and contains MRI imaging components to identify tumor localization.


  • Kills nearly 100% of RENCA, MCF-7, PC-3, Caki-1 and HeLA cells
  • Enables highly-defined MRI contrast to provide tumor imaging for treatment accuracy and patient monitoring
  • A targeting modality can be added to confer specific tumor targeting
  • Can be coupled to chemotherapeutics to enhance cancer cell death
  • Increased clearance from the body compared to similar technologies

Application Fields

  • Treatment of solid tumors in the kidney, breast, prostate and cervix
  • Imaging tumor sites using MRI to help visualize localization of the treatment and tumor response

Stage of Development

  • The technology has been validated in vitro with multiple different cancer cell lines and has also shown effectiveness in vivo using a mouse model of kidney cancer.


  • David Carroll, PhD
  • Steven Akman, MD
  • Frank Torti, MD, MPH (University of Connecticut)
  • Suzy Torti, PhD (University of Connecticut)
  • Omkaram Nalamasu, PhD (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
  • Pulickel Ajayan, PhD (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)


U.S. Patent No. 8522772


“Thermal Ablation Therapeutics Based on CNx Multi-walled Nanotubes.” International Journal of Nanomedicine (2007) Vol. 2, Issue 4
Long-term Survival Following a Single Treatment of Kidney Tumors with Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes and Near-Infrared Radiation.” PNAS (2009) Vol. 106, No. 31

Licensing Contact

Charlie Shaw, PhD

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