With this new system it will be possible to destroy big tumors in a faster and less invasive way than it is the case with the actual chemical therapy or the radiotherapy.
One of the most negative effects of the traditional cancer treatments, such as radio or chemotherapy, are their secondary effects such as hair loss, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, constant fatigue, the mouth drying out, among others. All this happens because these treatments are highly invasive.
There have been many researches with the purpose of finding an alternative method which would be equally efficient as the traditional ones, but less invasive. The investigators from the University of Zaragoza and the University Pompeu Fabra in Spain have developed and patented a generator of high voltage pulses to destroy solid tumors, by the phenomenon known as “irreversible electroporation”.
What does this new method consist of and what makes it different from the traditional ones? What causes the death of the cells when they are incapable of repairing the damage made in their walls by high electric fields?
One of the benefits of irreversible electroporation for the patients is that its action mechanism isn’t based on thermal alterations. That improves the recovery and enables the treatment of the tumors which due to their localization wouldn’t be deemed as treatable. Not only that it makes their treatment possible, but it also does it in a faster, less toxic and less invasive way, since it is not thermal and it doesn’t use medication.
Oscar Lucía, investigator of the Group of Power Electronics and Microelectronics, explained that , in comparison with the chemotherapy, this system is “more localized and less injurious, because it doesn’t implicate thermal heating as opposed to the radiotherapy or radio frequency” and, therefore, recovery is faster and with fewer consequences.
At the moment, the generator, which can apply voltages up to 12 kilo volts peak-to-peak and currents up to 400 amperes, has been successfully tested in the in vivo studies and has demonstrated its ability to destroy large volumes of tissue. But the patent has aroused the interest of several companies, which will allow advance in irreversible electroporation as an effective tool in the battle with cancer.