UNC team uses electrical field to improve chemo delivery

Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, have used electrical fields to deliver chemotherapy drugs to difficult tumors, and the small electrical charges have shown in animal tests to drive the therapies deep into solid tumors that were once hard to reach.

Joseph DeSimone

Led by UNC chemist Joseph DeSimone, the research team planted electrodes on either side of pancreatic tumors along with a reservoir of the chemotherapy to drive the drug into the tumor. The electrical field is created by two opposite electrodes on either side of the tumor, and when that is combined with the cancer drug, it allows for further penetration.

The team used the method on mice with either pancreatic or breast cancer, implanting the low-voltage devices to direct the polar drugs through the tumors. In mice treated with the drug gemcitabine twice a week for 7 weeks, the method showed higher concentrations of the drug in the tumors than in mice that just received the therapy alone, according to results published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The tumors shrank dramatically in animals that received the electrical treatment.

And with the drug cisplatin, the scientists found that mice with breast cancer below their skin survived double the amount of time with strongly inhibited tumor growth, according to an article from Science.

- here's the Science story
- get the research abstract

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