Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Success of electrical treatment for tumor removal

14.02.2007
A potential breakthrough in minimally invasive surgical removal of tumors has been demonstrated using an innovative technique involving microsecond electrical pulses that can punch permanent nanoscale holes in the membranes of targeted cells without harming adjacent healthy tissue.

The technique, known as irreversible electroporation (IRE), was developed by a research team headed by Boris Rubinsky, currently on leave as professor of bioengineering and mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and now head of the Center for Biomedical Engineering in the Service of Humanity and Society at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The success of a large-scale study on pigs who were treated using the technique is described in the February issue of the journal Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment.

"I've been working in this area of minimally invasive surgery for 30 years now," said Rubinsky, lead author of the paper in the journal. "I truly think that this will be viewed as one of the most important advances in the treatment of tumors in years. I am very excited about the potential of this technique. It may have tremendous applications in many areas of medicine and surgery."

Rubinsky co-authored the paper with Dr. Gary Onik, director of surgical imaging at Florida Hospital Celebration Health. They founded the Oncobionic Company two years ago to commercialize IRE. Oncobionic is in the process of being sold to AngioDynamics, a New York-based manufacturer of medical devices for minimally invasive surgery.

It was first reported in the early 1970s that the application to cells of very fast electrical pulses – in the microsecond and millisecond range – creates an electrical field that causes nanoscale pores to open in the cell membrane (electroporation). But research since then has mainly focused on reversible electroporation, which uses voltages low enough to temporarily increase the cell membrane's permeability. The holes in the cell membrane created by reversible electroporation close up shortly after treatment, allowing the cell to survive.

“This concept of reversible electroporation really caught on in modern biotechnology, especially over the last decade," said Rubinsky. "It is used primarily to help get genes and drugs into cells (but is not effective in killing “target” cells directly). The field of irreversible electroporation was pretty much forgotten."

Irreversible electroporation uses electrical pulses that are slightly longer and stronger than reversible electroporation. With IRE, the holes in the cell membrane do not reseal, causing the cell to die. IRE utilizes a range of electrical current that causes permanent damage to cell membranes without generating heat and thermal damage.

The advantage to this, say the researchers, is that IRE overcomes the limitations of current minimally invasive surgical techniques that use extreme heat, such as hyperthermia or radiofrequency, or extreme cold, such as cryosurgery, to destroy tumorous cells. They point out that this type of temperature damage to cells also causes structural damage to proteins and the surrounding connective tissue. For liver cancer, for example, the bile duct is at risk for damage. For prostate cancer, the urethra and surrounding nerve tissue is often affected.

Irreversible electroporation, on the other hand, acts just on the targeted cell membrane, leaving collagen fibers and other vascular tissue structures intact. The researchers said that leaving the tissue's "scaffolding" in place in this manner allows healthy cells to regrow far more quickly than if everything in the region were destroyed.

In the new study, the researchers set out to demonstrate that the IRE technique could produce reliable and predictable results in a large animal model. They performed the IRE surgical technique on 14 healthy female pigs under general anesthesia, using the same procedures as if the patients were human.

They showed that selected cell membranes were destroyed, while untargeted adjacent tissue healed remarkably quickly. Although the tissue chosen for destruction in this study was healthy, the researchers found in a prior cell culture study that IRE effectively kills human liver cancer tissue.

A further chronic drawback of heat or cryo (cold) treatments for cancer is the difficulty in treating cells that are immediately adjacent to the blood vessels. Because blood maintains a relatively stable temperature, it actually transfers heat or cold away from a treatment area in an attempt to return the region to a normal temperature range. That means some cancerous cells might actually survive treatment.

"That counts for a lot of failures when treating liver cancers," said Onik. "With IRE, you can destroy cancerous cells right next to the blood vessels. It's a more complete treatment. In my clinical experience, this is about as good as it gets. We've been using other techniques for a long time. This provides significant improvements over other treatments."

"While we are obviously very excited about this advance in tumor removal, we are still in the early stages of our learning curve," Onik cautioned. "There is always the potential for unexpected results."

The IRE technology was cleared for human use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2006. Onik is scheduled to begin human clinical trials for IRE this summer.

Jerry Barach | alfa
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Live imaging reveals how wound healing influences cancer
01.07.2015 | EMBO

nachricht Using bacterial 'fight clubs' to find new drugs
30.06.2015 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: X-rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time

New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions

A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...

Im Focus: Iron: A biological element?

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...

Im Focus: Thousands of Droplets for Diagnostics

Researchers develop new method enabling DNA molecules to be counted in just 30 minutes

A team of scientists including PhD student Friedrich Schuler from the Laboratory of MEMS Applications at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of...

Im Focus: Bionic eye clinical trial results show long-term safety, efficacy vision-restoring implant

Patients using Argus II experienced significant improvement in visual function and quality of life

The three-year clinical trial results of the retinal implant popularly known as the "bionic eye," have proven the long-term efficacy, safety and reliability of...

Im Focus: Lasers for Fast Internet in Space – Space Technology from Aachen

On June 23, the second Sentinel mission was launched from the space mission launch center in Kourou. A critical component of Aachen is on board. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT and Tesat-Spacecom have jointly developed the know-how for space-qualified laser components. For the Sentinel mission the diode laser pump module of the Laser Communication Terminal LCT was planned and constructed in Aachen in cooperation with the manufacturer of the LCT, Tesat-Spacecom, and the Ferdinand Braun Institute.

After eight years of preparation, in the early morning of June 23 the time had come: in Kourou in French Guiana, the European Space Agency launched the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Leipzig: Last chance to submit abstracts until 2 July

25.06.2015 | Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine: Abstract Submission has been extended to 24 June

16.06.2015 | Event News

MUSE hosting Europe’s largest science communication conference

11.06.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Offshore wind park Westermost Rough officially inaugurated

01.07.2015 | Press release

Siemens Velaro train wins "Red Dot" award

01.07.2015 | Awards Funding

Liquids on Fibers - Slipping or Flowing?

01.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>