Tumor Ablation with Irreversible Electroporation
We report the first successful use of irreversible electroporation for the minimally invasive treatment of aggressive cutaneous tumors implanted in mice. Irreversible electroporation is a newly developed non-thermal tissue ablation technique in which certain short duration electrical fields are used to permanently permeabilize the cell membrane, presumably through the formation of nanoscale defects in the cell membrane. Mathematical models of the electrical and thermal fields that develop during the application of the pulses were used to design an efficient treatment protocol with minimal heating of the tissue. Tumor regression was confirmed by histological studies which also revealed that it occurred as a direct result of irreversible cell membrane permeabilization. Parametric studies show that the successful outcome of the procedure is related to the applied electric field strength, the total pulse duration as well as the temporal mode of delivery of the pulses. Our best results were obtained using plate electrodes to deliver across the tumor 80 pulses of 100 µs at 0.3 Hz with an electrical field magnitude of 2500 V/cm. These conditions induced complete regression in 12 out of 13 treated tumors, (92%), in the absence of tissue heating. Irreversible electroporation is thus a new effective modality for non-thermal tumor ablation.