30 May 2007

Curing Brain Cancer With Electric Fields

Israeli researchers have published results of a study using electric fields to successfully treat patients with the rapidly growing brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
A device that specifically targets rapidly growing cancer cells with intermediate frequency electrical fields -- called Tumor-Treating Fields (TTFields) -- doubled the survival rates of patients with brain cancer, according to a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal article.

Early results of cell culture, animal and early phase human trials showed that compared to historical data, the device more than doubled the median overall survival rates in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and aggressive type of malignant brain tumor. These survival rates observed in the data were compared to historical data.

Professor Yoram Palti of the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, the leading Israeli biomedical research institution, invented the device and first described it in a journal article in 2004.

It uses electrical fields to disrupt tumor growth by interfering with cell division of cancerous cells, causing them to stop proliferating and die off instead of dividing and growing. Healthy brain cells rarely divide and have different electrical properties than cancerous brain cells. This allows the device to target cancer cells without affecting the healthy cells.

Here is a link to a journal article describing the technique.

This technique appears to offer promise for other types of tumours that can be as easily accessed with external electrical fields, with much less serious side effects than with chemotherapy, radiation, or neurosurgery.

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