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Scientists Treat Brain Cancer With Electricity

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Scientists Treat Brain Cancer With Electricity

Electrodes used to treat brain cancer…

Scientist have discovered a new method of treating a particularly lethal brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, by sending electric pulses through the brain.

The device, developed by Israeli company NovoCure, uses an electric field to disrupt the growth of cancer cells. Glioblastoma multiforme is fast-growing, difficult to treat, and nearly always fatal; even with aggressive therapy, patients have an average survival time of less than two years.

But recent trails using NovoCure’s device has yielded promising results. Out of ten patients who started using the device in combination with chemotherapy, seven are still alive more than four years later, and five of them show no signs of cancer progression.

NovoCure’s device consists of insulated electrode pairs which are placed on a patient’s body near the tumors. These electrodes are attached by leads to a three-kilogram battery that the patient carries everywhere.

The electrodes emit low-intensity electric fields to create a current that has no effect on any tissue in the body except dividing cells.

novocure treat brain cancer with electrodes Scientists Treat Brain Cancer With Electricity

The electronic fields exploit a vulnerability in cells, that occurs as they divide into two. As the division occurs, the cell forms and hourglass shape, at which point the electronic current is concentrated at the cells narrow waist. This destroys the cell membrane and the cells disintegrate.

While chemotherapy and NovoCure’s electronic device both have an effect when used in isolation, combining the two treatments enhances cancer fighting properties. The electric fields appear to make the cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapy without causing any additional side effects.

Using these two treatments has also shown promise in preventing other forms of the disease such as lung cancer.

Although the device needs work to make the battery smaller and more portable, NovoCure are so happy with the results that it is now recruiting 283 newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients across the United States and in Europe to participate in a two-year pivotal clinical trial.

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