February 12, 2007
A large animal study has given further support to bioengineering and mechanical engineering professor Boris Rubinsky’s irreversible electroporation technique.
The study shows that certain microsecond electrical pulses can punch nanoscale holes in the membranes of target cells without harming tissue scaffolding, including that in the blood vessels – a potential breakthrough in minimally invasive surgical treatments of tumors.
The study on pigs, the first large animal trial for the irreversible electroporation (IRE) technique, is described in the February issue of the journal Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment. The paper is co-authored bye Dr. Gary Onik, director of surgical imaging at Florida Hospital Celebration Health.
Electroporation, using very fast electrical pulses to cause nanoscale pores to open in the cell membrane, is usually used in a reversible way to temporarily increase the cell membrane’s permeability. Irreversible electroporation uses electrical pulses that are slightly longer and stronger, and the holes in the cell membrane do not reseal, causing the cell to lose its ability to maintain homeostasis and die. The researchers hope the technique will be a great advance in the treatment of cancerous tumors.
Read the full story at the UC Berkeley NewsCenter .