It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
By PHILIP WALZER, The Virginian-Pilot © March 13, 2006
NORFOLK - A team of scientists from Old Dominion University and
Eastern Virginia Medical School has reported killing melanoma's in
mice using lightning-fast, high-powered jolts of electricity. The
researchers expect their paper to be placed online Wednesday in the
journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications . It's
the culmination of at least eight years of work seeking possible
health benefits from short, high-voltage doses of electricity.
There results, the researchers think, eventually could translate into
an effective cancer treatment that carries no side effects. "We've
never had a tumor that didn't respond," said the lead researcher,
Richard Nuccitelli, an associate professor of electrical and computer
engineering at Old Dominion. "Every tumor has shrunk. We know we can
eliminate them with the right conditions." The electric bursts often
disrupted the blood flow to the tumor cells and shrunk their nuclei
by 50 percent, Nuccitelli said. The scientists found that they could
kill the tumors with hundreds of electrical pulses in two treatments
given two to three weeks apart. Each burst of electricity carried
4,000 volts and lasted less than one-millionth of a second.
Nuccitelli said they think the process worked by severely damaging
the DNA in the cells. The method produced no scarring and did not
harm adjacent cells, the professors said. The mice survived, they
said, with no ill effects.
James Weaver, a senior research scientist for the Harvard-MIT
Division of Health Sciences and Technology, said Friday that the team
from ODU and EVMS is in the forefront of bioelectric research."
People have known for a long time that certain kinds of bigelectrical
field pulses can kill cells," he said. This, Weaver said, might mark
the first time tumor cells have been killed without harming nearby
cells." I think it's going to attract a lot of attention," he said.
Another researcher on the team, Karl Schoenbach, who holds ODU's
Batten Endowed Chair of Bioelectric Engineering, said they
focused "on the one type of cancer which is the easiest one to
access." He said the work might have many more applications." It
could give a new weapon to cancer research," Schoenbach said. "Maybe
some tumors that are not responding now might respond electrically."
Nuccitelli, who also works for a biotechnology company,
BioElectroMedCorp., said the corporation might try to adapt the
research to treat human skin lesions.The scientists said they need to
hone their techniques before they can experiment on people. Doing
that, they said, requires a federal grant, which they have not yet
Eight professors and graduate students participated in the study.
They are affiliated with the Frank Reidy Research Center for
Bioelectrics, a collaborative effort between ODU and EVMS led by
Schoenbach.The center takes up the fifth floor of the Norfolk Public
Health Center, near Brambleton and Colley avenues.
The melanoma work is not the first piece of prominent research to
come out of the bioelectrics center in the past year. Mounir
Laroussi, an associate professor at Old Dominion, developed a "plasma
pencil" that kills E. coli bacteria but leaves skin cells unharmed.
Laroussi has been featured on the Discovery Channel and in National
Geographic. Nuccitelli said he hopes the paper about melanoma will
draw lots of attention." As well as money, of course," said Stephen
Beebe , an associate professor of physiological sciences at EVMS who
helped to pioneer the bioelectric research.
Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics
Old Dominion University
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Electric Fields Open New Gateways into Biological Cells
The application of electrical pulses in the microsecond range
[.000001 second or 1 µs for short] to biological cells has been a
focus of studies for more than two decades. Such pulses cause the
accumulation of electrical charges at the cell membrane shielding the
interior of the cell from the external electrical fields. Typical
charging times for the mammalian cell membrane are on the order of
one microsecond. In contrast to these microsecond pulses that do not
penetrate into cells, shorter pulses, in the nanosecond range
[.000000001 second or 1 ns], penetrate the entire cell, nucleus and
organelles, and affect cell functions....continues