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Electric Pulses Help With Chemotherapy, May Open New Paths for Other Agents

Tracy Hampton, PhD
JAMA. 2011;305(6):549-551. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.92.
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For nearly 3 decades, basic science researchers have used electric pulses to make cell membranes transiently permeable to deliver DNA and other molecules into cells. Now, clinical investigators are applying this method to introduce chemotherapeutics to cancer cells by inserting electrodes into a tumor. Such electrochemotherapy has proven to be an effective local treatment for various types of tumors, particularly when electric pulses are applied with chemotherapeutics that pass through the cell membrane with difficulty or not at all.

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Electrochemotherapy involving intravenous bleomycin followed by electric pulses, given as palliative treatment for a patient with malignant melanoma, eliminated tumor nodules on the patient's scalp (Ugeskr Laeger. 2005;167[34]:3156-3159).

(Photo credit: Ugeskrift for Laeger)



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