Streaming Media


As the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children under 20, and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in males aged 20–39, there is a need to seek an effective treatment for brain tumors. While there may be various drugs for brain tumors, the problem is the lack of effective methods of delivery through cell membranes at a very specified and confined region. In order to tackle this specific problem of drug delivery, electroporation is introduced. Electroporation, the local application of electrical pulses, renders the cell membranes permeable to otherwise impermeable or poorly permeable anticancer drugs, thereby facilitating a potent localized cytotoxic effect. For effective electroporation-based drug uptake, the electric field distribution is critical. If the electric field intensity is too low, it will not open up the pores; if the electric field intensity is too high, it will kill the cells. This study investigated how the applied electric field varied in a 2-D model of a brain slice both with and without tumors, as well as in a simple 3-D model. With a critical field strength at around 1,200 V/cm, simulated electric fields were observed and compared under various conditions. The software utilized was ElecNet, an electric field simulation tool, by which the model was constructed with variable parameters, such as material conductivity and permittivity. Under various conditions, data were collected consistently at relative locations—barely outside, barely inside, and at the center of the tumor—for comparison and analysis. Results in the 2-D model showed the most optimal effect with an 8-needle array electrode, and suggested an enlarged needle array electrode for a large tumor. In 3-D, the critical strength and confined effect were observed at various depths. These results were consistent with previous studies of electroporation on breast tumors, which demonstrated similar electric behaviors. Based on our study, electroporation is a potential therapeutic strategy for treatment of brain tumors. Future investigation of a more sophisticated 3-D model is expected to confirm these findings with other preclinical studies using electroporation.


Video abstract produced by undergraduate students Mallory Gieringer and Matthew Okerson in a fall 2014 course from Purdue University’s Film and Video Studies program.