Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 193–204 | Cite as

Membrane-Targeting Approaches for Enhanced Cancer Cell Destruction with Irreversible Electroporation



Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a promising technology to treat local malignant cancer using short, high-voltage electric pulses. Unfortunately, in vivo studies show that IRE suffers from an inability to destroy large volumes of cancer tissue without introduction of cytotoxic agents and/or increasing the applied electrical dose to dangerous levels. This research will address this limitation by leveraging membrane-targeting mechanisms that increase lethal membrane permeabilization. Methods that directly modify membrane properties or change the pulse delivery timing are proposed that do not rely on cytotoxic agents. This work shows that significant enhancement (67–75% more cell destruction in vitro and >100% treatment volume increase in vivo) can be achieved using membrane-targeting approaches for IRE cancer destruction. The methods introduced are surfactants (i.e., DMSO) and pulse timing which are low cost, non-toxic, and easy to be incorporated into existing clinical use. Moreover, when needed, these methods can also be combined with electrochemotherapy to further enhance IRE treatment efficacy.


Irreversible electroporation Cancer treatment Adjuvant DMSO Pulse timing Membrane permeabilization 



This study was supported by Ethicon Endo-Surgery Inc. We thank Peter Shires for helpful discussions. JCB was supported by a McKnight Distinguished Professorship and the Carl and Janet Kuhrmeyer Chair of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.

Supplementary material

10439_2013_882_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Urological SurgeryUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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