Treating Brain Tumors – Translatable Process
Some cancerous tumors may be considered inoperable because they’re located close to parts of the body which might be injured by surgery. This could change with a new procedure which can destroy tumors without surgically removing them or using chemo-therapeutic drugs. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Davalos : You insert typically two probes into the targeted area; each probe is about the size of a syringe needle. And you deliver high voltage, but very low energy electrical pulses that kill the tumor by destabilizing the cells within that tumor.
Rafael Davalos is a biomedical engineer. He says the procedure has thus far been successfully tested on horses and dogs with melanoma, skin cancer and tumors.
Davalos: The technology could be used to treat almost any tumor where you’re trying to get this tumor before it’s spread throughout the body but it might be in a difficult place to operate on. It could definitely be used for prostate cancer or liver cancer or pancreatic cancer. We’re mostly focusing on those other cancers because we have a nice partnership with the Vet school and these are some good translational models we could use.
How the dog gets a brain tumor is exactly analogous to how a human gets a brain tumor. So if you can develop a technology to help a canine patient it’s readily translatable to help a human patient. And same thing goes with the horses and melanoma. If you can develop a technology or technique to help these horses, it’s directly applicable to helping humans.
I wanted to see if we were able to come up with something that actually was able to help the patient without having any negative side effects so that’s how it came about.
Human trials for the treatment may start within the next two years. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.