Electric Field Therapy Used Successfully To Limit Gliomas (Brain Tumors)
Posted on 23rd August 2007
Applying low intensity electric fields to the scalp, via insulated electrodes, can increase the survival rates of patients with brain tumor, according to a research article published in the latest issue of Physics Today. Yoram Palti and colleagues, researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, in a pilot trial, evaluated the safety and efficacy of the novel ‘Tumor Treating Fields’ (TTF) in 10 patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, one of the most malignant glial brain tumors.
The scientists applied 200 kHz of alternating electric field to the scalp of the patients at regular intervals and continued the treatment for a total of 280 weeks. They compared the results of the study with historical data and found that the therapy had significantly reduced the progression of tumors, and almost doubled the survival rate of the brain-tumor patients. A mild to moderate contact dermatitis beneath the electrodes delivering the field was the only device-related side effect reported during the clinical study. Encouraged by these positive findings, the team now plans to conduct a large-scale phase III clinical trial in recurrent glioblastoma multiforme patients.
Earlier studies conducted by the same team demonstrated the efficacy of this technology in invitro cell cultures and in laboratory animals. The application of electric field supposedly disrupts the growth and proliferation of malignant cells by obstructing cell division. Differential electrical properties and rare cell division associated with healthy brain cells help the device to specifically target the rapidly dividing brain tumor cells without affecting the normal cells.
Plotnikov et al (Clinical & Experimental Immunology, 2004) investigated the effect of applying low electric field along with the chemotherapeutic agent, doxorubicin, in mice models with metastatic transgenic adenocarcinoma of the prostate. The mice treated with combination therapy demonstrated an evident reduction in tumor size and prolonged survival rate. Based on the results of the study, they suggested that low electric field cancer treatment – enhanced chemotherapy (LEFCT-EC) is an effective treatment strategy against metastatic prostate tumors. Larkin et al (European Journal of Cancer, 2005) have also demonstrated the efficacy of combined electric field and ultrasound (CEFUS) in the treatment of murine colon adenocarcinoma and human esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Although currently used anticancer therapy, such as radiation and chemotherapy, are effective against cancer, they can potentially cause severe side effects in human beings. Tumor Treating Fields, although at a preliminary phase, could revolutionize cancer therapy and also point towards future anticancer treatment options that involve no drugs and minimal side-effects.
- Electric fields have potential as a cancer treatment. Physics Today. 2007 August. 60(8):19.
- Kirson ED, Dbal V, Tovary F, et al. Alternating electric fields arrest cell proliferation in animal tumor models and human brain tumors. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2007 June 12; 104(24): 10152-10157.
- Plotnikov A, Niego B, Ophir R, et al. Effective treatment of mouse metastatic prostate cancer by low electric field enhanced chemotherapy. Prostate. 2006 Nov 1;66(15):1620-30.
- J. Larkin, D. Soden, C. Collins, et al. Combined electric field and ultrasound therapy as a novel anti-tumour treatment. European Journal of Cancer.2005 June 41(9): 1339-1348.