Strange looking magnetic helmet shrinks glioblastoma in human trials

Researchers from Houston Methodist Neurological Institute have announced that they have been able to shrink a deadly glioblastoma tumor by more than one-third using a helmet that generates a noninvasive oscillating magnetic field. The patient in the human trial wore the helmet on their head while therapy was administered in his home. Sadly, the patient in the trial died from an unrelated injury about a month into treatment.

However, during the short period of treatment, researchers say 31 percent of the tumor mass disappeared. In addition, an autopsy conducted on his brain confirmed the rapid response to the new treatment. Dr. David S. Baskin said thanks to the courage of this patient and his family; the team was able to test and verify the effectiveness of the first noninvasive therapy for glioblastoma in the world.

After the patient died, the family allowed an autopsy to be performed, making "an invaluable contribution" to the further study and development of the potential therapy. Glioblastoma is the deadliest brain cancer in adults and is always fatal, with life expectancy from a few months to two years. The FDA granted the team approval for compassionate use treatment of the patient with the newly invented Oncomagnetic Device under an Extended Access Program. The device was being investigated on mice at the time.

The treatment consists of the intermittent application of an oscillating magnetic field generated by rotating permanent magnets in a specific frequency profile and with a specific timing pattern. The treatment was first administered for two hours under supervision in the clinic. Then, future treatments were given in the patient's home with increasing treatment times up to a maximum of six hours per day.

The device has three oncoscillators attached to a helmet connected to a microprocessor-based electronic controller operated by a rechargeable battery. Researchers say during five weeks of treatment the patient received, the magnetic therapy was well-tolerated, and tumor mass and volume shrunk by nearly one-third. Tumor shrinkage appeared to correlate with treatment dose.