Electrochemotherapy: Technological advancements for efficient electroporation-based treatment of internal tumors

D. Miklavčič, G. Serša, E. Brecelj, J. Gehl, D. Soden, G. Bianchi, P. Ruggieri, C. R. Rossi, L. G. Campana, T. Jarm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Electrochemotherapy, a combination of high voltage electric pulses and of an anticancer drug, has been demonstrated to be highly effective in treatment of cutaneous and subcutaneous tumors. Unique properties of electrochemotherapy (e.g., high specificity for targeting cancer cells, high degree of localization of treatment effect, capacity for preserving the innate immune response and the structure of the extracellular matrix) are facilitating its wide spread in the clinics. Due to high effectiveness of electrochemotherapy in treatment of cutaneous and subcutaneous tumors regardless of histological origin, there are now attempts to extend its use to treatment of internal tumors. To advance the applicability of electrochemotherapy to treatment of internal solid tumors, new technological developments are needed that will enable treatment of these tumors in daily clinical practice. New electrodes through which electric pulses are delivered to target tissue need to be designed with the aim to access target tissue anywhere in the body. To increase the probability of complete tumor eradication, the electrodes have to be accurately positioned, first to provide an adequate extent of electroporation of all tumor cells and second not to damage critical healthy tissue or organs in its vicinity. This can be achieved by image guided insertion of electrodes that will enable accurate positioning of the electrodes in combination with patient-specific numerical treatment planning or using a predefined geometry of electrodes. In order to be able to use electrochemotherapy safely for treatment of internal tumors located in relative proximity of the heart (e.g., in case of liver metastases), the treatment must be performed without interfering with the heart's electrical activity. We describe recent technological advances, which allow treatment of liver and bone metastases, soft tissue sarcomas, brain tumors, and colorectal and esophageal tumors. The first clinical experiences in these novel application areas of electrochemotherapy are also described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1213-1225
Number of pages13
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Volume50
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

Keywords

  • Cancer treatment
  • Electrochemotherapy
  • Electroporation
  • Treatment planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Medicine(all)

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