Nijmegen start-up PinkRF uses microwaves to cook cancer cells

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PinkRF, developer of RF energy systems, has made public its collaboration with the Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) in the fight against cancer. The Nijmegen-based start-up is developing a method to utilize solid-state RF energy, similar to that used in microwave ovens, to heat and kill cancer cells through a process called hyperthermia.

Klaus Werner’s PinkRF is collaborating with the Erasmus Medical Center in the fight against cancer. Credit: Novio Tech Campus Nijmegen

While EMC is developing a new applicator for hyperthermia in deeply located tumors in the head and neck area, PinkRF is working on a custom RF generator system to use in treatment. The system operates within the 433 MHz industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) band and consists of more than ten individual channels that can generate up to 200 watts of RF output power per channel. Instead of using irregular beams of radio waves, like those found in microwave ovens, PinkRF will utilize new generation technology that allows it to target the electromagnetic waves and precisely control the temperature to 40-43 ˚C.

“Research has shown that these increased temperatures can damage and kill cancer cells while causing only minimal injury to healthy tissue,” says PinkRF founder and director Klaus Werner. “Hyperthermia is a supplementary treatment that’s usually applied in combination with established cancer therapies like radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Breast cancer is one of the types of cancer treated with hyperthermia. And because Pink Ribbon, as an organization, dedicates itself to breast cancer patients, we’ve included this optimistic color in our name.”