Assistant professor Hana Dobšíček Trefna has received a grant of 1 million SEK from the Hasselblad Foundation for her research on a more effective technology to treat cancer. The award is given to female researchers in the field of natural sciences who are in the beginning of their academic careers.
“This prize will mean a lot to my research,” says Hana Dobšíček Trefna, Assistant Professor in the research group Biomedical electromagnetics at Chalmers.“Thanks to this I will be able to employ a PhD student in my research area, thereby hoping that it will be possible to faster implement effective technology for treating and curing cancer.”
Microwave technology used for cancer treatment
Hana’s research focuses on using microwave technology as a complement to traditional cancer treatments. By transmitting microwaves through the body of the patient, the cancer tumor is heated to 40-44 degrees, so called hyperthermia. This treatment is toxic to the tumor, and the warming also makes the tumor more susceptible to other treatments. Clinical studies have shown that traditional radiation therapy and chemotherapy combined with hyperthermia significantly enhances the possibility of a long-term cure for a number of different cancer types.“In about a year, by the end of 2018, we are planning to start clinical studies on patients at Sahlgrenska University Hospital,” Hana says. “Through a new hyperthermia system, which can reach deep-seated tumors in the head and neck with high precision, it is possible to raise the temperature in the tumor without damaging the surrounding tissue. This study is an important step on the way to finally make the treatment available in cancer care.”
Unique research on brain tumors in children
Hana also conducts research on brain tumors in children, where the research group today is the only one in the world developing microwave technology for that kind of treatment. The primary goal is that fewer children should suffer from serious side effects in the brain’s development that traditional therapies induce.
For the seventh consecutive year, the Hasselblad Foundation allocates funds to support female postdoctoral researchers in the field of natural sciences. The other recipient of 2017 is Anna Reymer from University of Gothenburg.
Text: Yvonne Jonsson, Chalmers
Photo: Cecilia Sandblom © Hasselbladstiftelsen