MAI post-graduate student contributes to cancer treatment

30 September 2020

MAI post-graduate student contributes to cancer treatment

Dmitry Semenov, the post-graduate student of the MAI Institute No. 6 "Aerospace", is conducting a study aimed conquering cancer and other serious diseases. Last year, the grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) was allocated for the implementation of his project "Computational and experimental modeling of heat transfer processes in biological tissues".

The work is carried out at the Department 601 "Space Systems and Rocket Engineering", whose specialists have extensive experience in the study of thermal processes in various materials. The project manager is Alexey Nenarokomov, Doctor of Technical Sciences, and Professor of the Institute No. 6.

The press-service of MAI found out what prospects it might open in medical and other fields, and how the therapy and mathematical modeling are interconnected.

Heat treatment

In medical science, during the treatment of a number of diseases, the method of biological tissues heating up to temperatures exceeding 40°C is being widely applicated and it is called hyperthermia. The therapeutic effect is achieved by the increasing of cellular metabolism, improving blood supply to organs and oxygen saturation of cells, and at temperatures above 50°C is achieved via destroying tissue areas that cause disorders in the work of organs and systems. This method helps patients suffering from heart arrhythmia, Parkinson’s disease, joint hypermobility, hypermetropia, hyperplasia, and from malignant tumors.

— Surface tumors laser hyperthermia via heating them to the temperature of 41-45°C is successfully used in oncology, — says Dmitry Semenov. — The result of this procedure depends on both the thermal mode of exposure to the affected tissues and the duration of the procedure. It is necessary to consider, on the one hand, the danger of overheating the surrounding tumor tissue, and on the other hand the probability of treatment failure and some at the negative effects at insufficiently high temperature exposure.

At the same time, heating can cause undesirable effect: when working in high temperatures, like under the insufficient protection of the firefighter’s suit, and even during diagnostic procedures, such as MRI.

In all the above-mentioned cases, the accurate mathematical description is extremely important for prognoses and processes optimization. Here, however, there is a difficulty: each person is unique and it is almost impossible to predict the parameters of his body.

Mathematics at service of medical science

Dmitry Semenov’s project involves the development of comprehensive method for mathematical model constructing of heat transfer with computational and experimental determination of the parameters of the system under study. This task differs from those that were previously solved at the Department 601 the difference is caused by the impossibility of the application of traditional approaches to measuring parameters.

— In this case, to get information about the sample, we cannot use the heat sensors placed inside it, as it was usually done, — explains the young scientist. — Therefore, we are faced with the task of the implementation of the developments of the Department 601 in order to create the method for determining the thermophysical and radiation-optical characteristics of the material, based on solving the inverse problem of heat exchange under external thermal influence. At the same time, due to the high sensitivity of biological tissues to minor temperature changes, it is especially important to minimize system errors in calculations.

To confirm the correctness of the calculation, an experiment is conducted using an artificial material that has characteristics similar to the biological tissues. When measuring the temperature of the sample, researchers use the method of the infrared thermometry, and record the process of heating the surface using thermal imaging camera.

The results of this work may be of interest to manufacturers of medical equipment, in particular, hardware and software systems for hypo- and hyperthermia. They can also be used to create thermal protection equipment, including for the aviation and rocket and space industries, energy, metallurgy, etc.

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