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
Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour
24.05.2018 | Arizona State University
3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences