Nanomaterials in thermal ablation therapy for cancer

Associate Professor from Nazarbayev University School of Engineering and Digital Sciences Vassilis Inglezakis is investigating the use of advanced materials for biomedical applications, including cancer treatments.

He explains that the methods the team are looking at focuses more on complementing existing treatments rather than replacing them.

He said: “We synthesise several kinds of materials suitable for medical applications and in one of mots important projects funded by the European Commission we are particularly interested in the removal of certain toxins from the human body. The nanomaterials we are synthesising are based on activated carbons, cryogels and several natural materials. We’ll then process these materials to give them certain properties that are necessary for applications in the areas we are interested in.”

This work done by Nazarbayev University research team is part of a Horizon 2020 project which sees them collaborate with 12 other European universities looking at nanomaterials in medical applications.

Prof. Inglezakis team is also working with Ph student Zhannat Ashikbayeva and Prof. Daniele Tosi on another relevant project, focusing on thermal ablation therapy that involves eliminating cancerous cells by applying heat. The chosen nanomaterial is applied to the cancerous cells which increases heat by absorbing infrared light, electromagnetic or radio frequency waves – allowing cancerous cells to be targeted without adversely affecting health cells.

Explaining more about the materials that has been used in their research, Prof. Inglezakis adds: “It’s well known that several of these (conventional) therapies are produced by products in the human body and our materials are to be used to remove these. The materials we are working with are materials that are either proven that they can be used for human consumption like natural zeolites. They already have licence to be used as a food supplement, even medicine in the European Union. For the materials that we are synthesising before testing them for applications, the first thing we are doing is testing whether they are biocompatible, and they don’t produce a secondary effect to the living organisms.”

Prof. Inglezakis also underlined the support that University provides to the researchers so to allow them to be competitive and attractive to foreign Universities so to form collaborations, and the positive effect it could have for both the university, the country as well as other researchers.

“Most of the colleagues in Europe probably don’t know that we have very good facilities here, high end equipment. We have all of the prerequisites to do high end research.”


Nazarbayev University is one of the most international universities in Central Asia with faculty from more than 55 countries. Professors are thought leaders in their disciplines and conduct research on modern issues facing business and industry.

Co-founder of the Asian Universities Alliance, a wide portfolio of undergraduate and graduate programs are delivered ranging from STEM to social sciences and business. All programmes are taught in English.

It offers merit-based scholarships for top international candidates recommended by the Admissions Committee. International students are also provided with accommodation on campus.

Undergraduate programmes

Undergraduate programmes are offered in the field of engineering, science and technology, mining and geosciences and humanities and social sciences. They prepare students for successful academic and professional careers.

Graduate programmes

Graduate programmes are offered in the field of public policy, education, business, humanities and social sciences, science and technology, engineering, mining and geosciences.

Graduate programmes provide the opportunity to study at zero year of a master’s programmes – a two-semester, full-time intensive English and content course for students of NU graduate programmes who lack the English requirement necessary for immediate entry.

PhD programmes

PhD programmes are offered in engineering and technology, education, public policy and Eurasian studies. The PhD program in Eurasian studies at Nazarbayev University is the first interdisciplinary, English-language doctoral programme in the humanities and social sciences in Central Asia.