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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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  • 1931 called (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @09:13PM (#19316713)
  • by Sase ( 311326 ) <(sase) (at) (> on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @09:22PM (#19316785) Homepage
    The basis of all chemotherapy and the like has constantly focused on the fundamental differences between cancerous cells and normal cells: ie the fact that they're not dividing rapidly.

    This is why people who receive chemo have problems with diarrhea and hair loss.. it just so happens that those cells are rapidly dividing and are affected just as well.

    However, other treatments (few and far between,) such for Chronic Mylogenous Leukemia using Gleevac, which is designed to target the BCR-ABL fusion protein or Herceptin, used against breast cancers that overexpress ErbB2 receptor, are both novel in the sense that they exploit even more unique features of the cancer. That's what makes them so fantastic.

    This new therapy won't provide too many benefits as far as the nastyness of treatment b/c it works just like chemo (in the case of metastases.) However, in the case of solid tumors ie GBM schwannomas, etc. perhaps it could be useful.

    By the way, 10 patients is nearly not enough to be conclusive in any respect.

  • The article states that the cells in the brain don't really replicate or regenerate.

    However, recent research has shown that cells in the area of the hippocampus do in fact replicate, and are indicated in the role they play in cancer:

    Take a peak: ml []
  • by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @09:49PM (#19316995) Journal
    There is a lot of fuss about whether cell phones, wi-fi etc. can damage bodies and minds by their radio waves. Although there is a lot of fuss, it is not justified by much (any?) significant scientific data.

    Now it is shown that "intermediate frequency electrical fields" (whatever that means) can damage cancerous brain cells. Does this mean that a physiological effect (beneficial in this case) has been demonstrated, so that an adverse effect becomes more plausible?

    I have no idea of the frequencies and amplitudes involved in the two cases (tumour treating fields vs. cell phones).* I'm guessing that the situations are so different that this result says nothing about the physiological effects of cell-phone exposure, but as the linked article contains no useful information about this, and the paper is unavailable, it is just a guess.

    * I've looked for the paper on the PNAS website, but I can't find it - perhaps it is accepted but not yet published.
  • by WannaBeGeekGirl ( 461758 ) * on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @03:10AM (#19318675) Journal
    Is what concerns me most.

    In 2005 I was referred to an ECT (ElectroConvulsive Therapy sometimes called the old term Electroshock) program for treatment of treatment resistent unipolar depression I've had for 13 years. The doctors only told me the legal minimum of possible side effects. I had 30 grand mal seizures, the minimum considered therapeutic. They couldn't do anymore because I was maxxed out on caffeine and my heart was going into irregular rhythms when they'd try to prolong the seizure with more electricity. (Just short of an amp) In other words, the brain doesn't like seizures. ECT has its origins as a form of torture and relies on the use of a side-effect that has an entire disease, epilepsy, that we try to make go away, as its "therapy". They may paint it as less barbaric because they added general anesthesia and muscle relaxant, but its still the same idea. Break the brain to fix it? Add along to that how many anesthesiologists mess up the general and muscle relaxant leaving the patient conscious but paralyzed as the seizure starts, so they feel like they're choking, but can't move or scream. Its hardly humane. I'm not going to link the support sites, because that would seem to give me more of an agenda here then I meant to come off with.

    I went into ECT with a very open mind (no pun intended) because frankly I wanted my life back and 5 psych consults were telling me this was my last hope, save the VNS pacemaker that is held up in FDA red-tape and not covered by major insurance providers for TRD yet. I knew I risked some memory damage during the treatment, my life (as with any general anesthesia procedure) and that its terrifying. Well TRD that keeps you bed-ridden is pretty lousy too. Depression kills most of its victims with their own hands. I was living in constant fear of taking my own life. There are things worse than death. I had never had small scale memory loss, or repetative surgery. So I tried ECT.

    What I learned was that I wasn't given all the facts, most ECT patients aren't. Almost everyone that finds out I've had ECT thinks I'm kidding. They can't believe such an inhumane procedure is still used. They ask me if its like it was "in that movie with Jack Nicholson movie?" Most of those people that find out are doctors that read my medical history. I carry it in my purse because I have no memory of the majority of the two and a half years before 2005.

    I don't understand the jargon in that article. I do understand that physical and emotional suffering of disease will put a patient at risk to fall prey to unethical procedures. I cannot say if some of those will be in the name of research leading to better treatments. I just know that when you have a death sentence, a limited time and the pain is untreatable, ethical treatment of a patient is huge. I'm going to be very careful about letting doctors put electricity into my brain again. I sacrificed memory and vocabulary and now have 2 day long migraines twice a week because someone messed up. Hindsite isn't 20/20 for me, my memory is gone except for the journaling I did. I don't even know if I'd do it again. Thats what I guess I'm thinking people should consider when it comes to letting doctors play god with your mind.
  • Re:1931 called (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:57AM (#19320289)

    I was exposed to Jin Shin Jyutsu [] a year ago, and after about 40 hours of practice I am able to feel the energy in my hands and face as I breathe deeply and put my fingers on specific points on my body.

    Recently I was injured, and physical therapy hasn't progressed due to the nature of the injury, so my doctor prescribed a TENS [] device.

    I was rather surprised that the sensation of the TENS device is very similar to the feeling of the energy, a gentle tingling.

    I asked my JSJ healer about this and was told that Dr. Norman Shealy, [] who invented the TENS device, is also learned in energy work.

    They say that the tingling is undetectable because our instruments aren't sensitive enough. I know it's hearsay and I could be typing any random string of characters (as AC for various reasons), but I know with confidence that I can both feel the energy as I do the work, and it benefits my life.

    I read about Rife about 6 months ago; it's a real shame that his work was effectively destroyed.

    Back to the topic, my recent experience makes the PNAS article very believable, and I hope that research in this area continues. I know I myself have started buying books on other forms of energy healing; as another response to the GP stated, it doesn't matter what the explanation is; if the effect is repeatable, it bears investigation.

    (What I mean by the above is JSJ Incorporated is a corporation designed to make money, and I'm not sure I agree with all the choices made in that regard; however, I know that as long as I have fingers and lungs, I can do my own research.)

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.