When heat casts a healing spell over cancer

Peregrine Laziosi (1265–1345), an Italian priest, became the patron saint of cancer patients when the tumour in his left leg miraculously disappeared after he developed a fever. Although it is known since a long time that elevated body temperature can cause tumours to regress, the underlying molecular mechanisms are still largely enigmatic.

Thomas Turner, a recent Cancer Biology graduate from Bangor University, and Dr Thomas Caspari, a researcher based in the School of Biological Sciences at Bangor University published one of the first comprehensive reviews of this topic in the Royal Society Journal Open Biology.

Dr Thomas Caspari says: “The induction of a fever by injecting patients with inactivated bacteria, which became known as Coley`s Toxin, was a very successful anti-cancer therapy in the 19th century. The healing power of heat has now been re-discovered and is used to treat patients with prostate cancer to great effect. This review article summarises our current scientific understanding of how heat kills cancer cells. It is also great to see the work of an undergraduate student published in a scientific journal with high international reputation. This is a good example of how Bangor University incorporates research into teaching.”

The article was published on Wednesday 12 March 2014 and is freely available on the Open Biology webpage (http://rsob.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/4/3/140008.abstract).

Publication date: 18 March 2014