Is there a Biological Basis for Therapeutic Applications of Millimetre Waves and THz Waves?


Millimetre wave (MMW) and THz wave (THz) applications are already employed in certain industrial and medical environments for non-destructive quality control, and medical imaging, diagnosis, and therapy, respectively. The aim of the present study is to investigate if published experimental studies (in vivo and in vitro) provide evidence for “non-thermal” biological effects of MMW and THz. Such effects would occur in absence of tissue heating and associated damage and are the ones that can be exploited for therapeutic medical use. The investigated studies provide some evidence for both MMW and THz that can influence biological systems in a manner that is not obviously driven by tissue heating. However, the number of relevant studies is very limited which severely limits the drawing of any far-reaching conclusions. Furthermore, the studies have not addressed specific interaction mechanisms and do not provide hints for future mechanistic studies. Also, the studies do not indicate any specific importance regarding power density levels, frequencies, or exposure duration. It is also unclear if any specific biological endpoints are especially sensitive. Any therapeutic potential of MMW or THz has to be evaluated based on future high-quality studies dealing with physical, bio-physical, and biological aspects that have specific health-related perspectives in mind.

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MS and MOM received a financial support from Forschungsstiftung Strom und Mobilkommunikation, CH (FSM; Project B2014-04). MOM received intramural funding from AIT for parts of this study.

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Correspondence to Myrtill Simkó.

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Mattsson, MO., Zeni, O. & Simkó, M. Is there a Biological Basis for Therapeutic Applications of Millimetre Waves and THz Waves?. J Infrared Milli Terahz Waves 39, 863–878 (2018).

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  • Millimetre wave
  • THz wave
  • Non-thermal
  • In vivo
  • In vitro