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Biotech Science

Electrical Field Treats Brain Cancer 136

amigoro writes "A device that specifically targets rapidly growing cancer cells with intermediate frequency electrical fields doubled the survival rates of patients with brain cancer, according to an article apperaring in PNAS. The device uses electrical fields to disrupt tumor growth by interfering with cell division of cancerous cells, causing them to stop proliferating and die off instead of dividing and growing. Healthy brain cells rarely divide and have different electrical properties than cancerous brain cells. This allows the device to target cancer cells without affecting the healthy cells. Essentially no device-related side effects were seenin the clinical trial."
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Electrical Field Treats Brain Cancer

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  • Confused (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @09:12PM (#19316701)
    I am confused! I thought electrical fields cause brain cancer!
  • Re:Confused (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DinZy ( 513280 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @09:22PM (#19316783)
    I am not sure what an electrical field is. I know what a magnetic filed and an electric field are must be some new scientifical thing. :)
  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @09:24PM (#19316801)
    All things in moderation.
    Not enough O2 and you die. Too much and you die (approx 2 atmospheres partial pressure IIRC).
    Water too. []

    Most drugs are poisons if taken in excessive quantities too

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @09:31PM (#19316849)
    it's a little more then re inventing the wheel, it's a new method of treating some cancers which doesn't invovle almost killing the person with chemo and destroying their immune system.

    and they aren't claiming anything conclusive, but with such promising results with 10 people it warrants serious research.

    maybe when YOU come up with a cure for cancer you can be a little more critical, ok?

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @10:29PM (#19317259)
    my most hated of all "natural" therapies is iridology. it's the classic example of people thinking putting an ology at the end of something makes it a science.

    worst of all is the claims these idiots make, such as being able to diagnose illnesses just by the colour of your eyes. These charlatans usually try backup their nonsense with fake creditals from bogus "medical schools" of natural treatments.

    the standard bullshit line is "oh look your eyes have -insert fake medical term- you must be low on -insert random vitamin- you need to buy this $80 bottle of - some product with the phrase natural whatever in it, which is filled with pills containing processed rubbish from china-"

  • Re:Electrodes? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @11:21PM (#19317595) Journal
    'So how deep does the field penetrate the body? If the answer is not very deep then you couldn't treat stuff like cervical cancer or colon cancer'

    My exhaustive study of the Slashdot summary leads me to believe this only being used on brain cancer. The electrical field prevents the cells from dividing and healthy brain cells rarely divide. The implication seems to be that this wouldn't work elsewhere because the cells in other parts of the body divide quite frequently.

  • Re:1931 called (Score:3, Insightful)

    by macs4all ( 973270 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @11:34PM (#19317681)
    And what's so impossible about Rife? Yeah, he got some stuff wrong; but medical researchers have known for years about the healing power of certain electrical currents, and have demonstrated same in many experiments.

    It seems logical, then, that certain types of cells might find their growth enhanced, or retarded, by electrical stimuli that a different cell type might not be significantly affected by, either one way or another.

    Once we have that type of a differentiation, and can do it repeatedly, that forms the very basis of a treatment modality.

    Maybe if Rife was transported into "now", and had a present-day lab, with all sorts of fancy DSP-based signal synthesis equipment and analysis tools (like PET scans to track the tumor's advance/retreat), he himself might very well be the author of this study. Who's to know?

    But the guy was obviously fairly close to a "legitimate" medical treatment.

  • Re:it can't be! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nanosquid ( 1074949 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @11:45PM (#19317739)
    Woosh--that just went completely over your head, didn't it?

    Of course, cell phones don't emit ionizing radiation. The silliness is that some people believe that non-ionizing radiation is automatically safe.
  • Hang in there -- I hope you get well soon.

  • by FreshnFurter ( 599451 ) <> on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @04:37AM (#19319019)

    I should precurse this by saying that I am a medical physicist, irradiating cancer cells is what I do for a living.

    Unlike the hype and scaremongering about cell phones, this actually has some science behind it. An article in Cancer Research (2004) (: Cancer Res. 2004 May 1;64(9):3288-95.) desribes the same technique (by the same authors) applied in vitro. This means they took some cancer cells in a test tube and subjected them to the fields. There they saw that over the course of 24 hours there is an inhibition in growth, over several days in tumors implanted in mice a reduction in tumor growth was seen (this means that the tumor grows slower).

    Independently, a group in Cleveland investigated the influence of electric fields at very low frequencies (50Hz, yes that's the frequency of our daily AC-current) and found inhibition of cell cycles, (this means that the cell is moving through it's cycle).

    To put things into context, we see some inhibition at low frequency (50Hz), and disruption of cell division at 100-300kHz. Cell phones work at frequencies of the horder of GHz. (for you slashdotters, replacing Hz with bytes will tell you all you need to now about the relative values of kHz, MHz and GHz ;-) )

    So I am reasonably optimistic that there is some truth to all this. However, there seems to be a selectivity that will not work as an advantage all of the time. The technique only seems to work if the field is switched on during cell mitosis. This means it will only work on cells that are actively replicating. So the it will only work well if and when the cells you are targeting have a different proliferation rate, than the ones you do not want to affect. Of course brain cells are a good example as their replication rate is extremely slow (if any).

    Some caveats: The experiment (in vitro) as described, has not been reproduced by an independent group. The number of patients used in the in vivo experiment is very low, too low to distinguish with any significant probability that the results obtained are not merely a statistical effect. The results however are promising. But that is the way science works. Slowly and methodically: FYI there is a specific way things are done when new modalities are found: 1) You look for dose effects, what is the dose that does no harm. This means you take a group of people and give each subsection and ever increasing dose until you see some bad effects. 2) Then perform a study of efficacy giving a large group of people the determined dose and see if there still is an effect, 3) Finally you compare this with a standard of care (the thing you normally do) with your new stuff in a double blind study (which means you, nor the patient knows beforehand what the treatment is going to be and see if you see a different cure rate.

    You might say, if it is so good we want it now. I can say the process described above goes faster the bigger the difference is with the standard of care.

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