Clinical trials are to start on a cold atmospheric plasma technology that effectively removes microscopic cancer tumors remaining from surgery.
Treatments for solid tumor cancers include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, but tumors can return if not fully removed. In the US alone, around 20-40 per cent of women undergoing partial mastectomy return to surgery because of marginal tumors that the surgeon missed the first time around.
Now, a multi-institute team has developed a pen-like electrosurgical scalpel that sprays a blue jet of cold plasma at any remaining cancerous tissue or cells for 2-7 minutes. The device is said to only target tumors, leaving surrounding tissue unharmed, as demonstrated in vitro, in vivo and in FDA-approved compassionate use cases prior to the clinical trial.
US Medical Innovations (USMI) and the Jerome Canady Research Institute for Advanced Biological and Technological Sciences (JCRI/ABTS) led the team and are sponsoring the clinical trial, with plans to recruit patients in September. USMI developed and patented the first high-frequency electrosurgical generator with cold plasma for the selective treatment of cancer in 2014.
“Plasma’s are very reactive, which can cause a variety of responses on the cellular level in biological tissue. But because they’re also extremely hot gases, there had been a push over the past 20 years to generate and test cold plasma’s for biological applications,” said team member Alexey Shashurin, an assistant professor in Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
This cold plasma technology selectively kills tumors through toxic molecules called reactive oxygen species, which damage targeted cancerous tissue but do not affect normal biological tissue. Lasers could also kill tissue, but the high heat would also bring permanent damage to surrounding tissue.
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