Optune noninvasive wearable device battles aggressive brain tumors

optune cancer treatment aaa 3607
As a particularly aggressive brain tumor, it almost goes without saying that glioblastomas are scary things. Fortunately, patients are benefiting from a new technology that has only been available to them relatively recently.

Called the Optune, it’s a wearable device that uses electrodes to send an AC electric field through the brain to attack tumor cells. Depending on the patient, the technology slows the growth of tumors, stops them growing further, or even shrinks them. Unlike chemotherapy, it doesn’t cause collateral damage in other parts of the body, either.

“Optune generates what are called tumor-treating fields,” Dr. Eilon Kirson, manufacturer Novocure’s chief science officer, told Digital Trends. “These are electric fields at an intermediate frequency range, which can be applied to the human body without interfering with neural activity or cardiac activity, and which don’t generate any significant heat. It’s at a frequency where the fields penetrate the body, enter cancer cells, and then interfere with the highly choreographed process of the rapid cell division of these cells.”

Requiring patients to shave their heads and attach electrodes which connect by wire to a portable power generator, Optune isn’t exactly a wearable device you’d fail to notice someone using. However, as Kirson pointed out, it still allows wearers to continue with their daily lives.

“Patients can sleep with it on and walk around with it, as well as doing almost any activities they want to do,” he said. “We have patients who go hiking or skiing; whatever they can do within the limitations of their disease they can do while wearing it.”

Optune isn’t, and doesn’t claim to be, a miracle solution. In a recent clinical trial, 43 percent of patients out of 695 were still alive after beginning treatment. That compares to 30 percent undergoing standard treatments. At the four year mark, Optune users had a 17 percent survival rate, compared to 10 percent for those who didn’t use it.

Still, when you’re dealing with a cancer as vicious glioblastomas, any improvement in patient outcome is likely to be welcome news.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Scientists have charged a phone and a Fitbit with solar-powered clothes

Scientists from Britain's Nottingham Trent University have discovered a way to incorporate solar panels into clothing, and they've even managed to charge a phone and Fitbit with the energy created.
Health & Fitness

Looking to get in shape? These high-tech fitness gadgets will help

There are a number of great fitness devices that aren't smartphones or fitness trackers, providing functionality that those products can't while helping us to stay healthier and injury free in pursuit of our goals.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.
Emerging Tech

‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral

In a world first, an undersea robot has delivered microscopic coral larvae to the Great Barrier Reef. Meet Larvalbot: the robot "crop duster" which dispenses coral babies on troubled reefs.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.
Features

Cities looking to get smart take a lesson from an iconic shopping mall

From Disney World to the Mall of America, public venues are becoming microcosms for smart city projects. We dove into both, to show what government officials can learn – and what you can expect from your city.