A new pulsed electric field therapy for melanoma disrupts the tumor's blood supply and causes complete remission without recurrence

Int J Cancer. 2009 Jul 15;125(2):438-45. doi: 10.1002/ijc.24345.


We have discovered a new, ultrafast therapy for treating skin cancer that is extremely effective with a total electric field exposure time of only 180 microsec. The application of 300 high-voltage (40 kV/cm), ultrashort (300 nsec) electrical pulses to murine melanomas in vivo triggers both necrosis and apoptosis, resulting in complete tumor remission within an average of 47 days in the 17 animals treated. None of these melanomas recurred during a 4-month period after the initial melanoma had disappeared. These pulses generate small, long-lasting, rectifying nanopores in the plasma membrane of exposed cells, resulting in increased membrane permeability to small molecules and ions, as well as an increase in intracellular Ca(2+), DNA fragmentation, disruption of the tumor's blood supply and the initiation of apoptosis. Apoptosis was indicated by a 3-fold increase in Bad labeling and a 72% decrease in Bcl-2 labeling. In addition, microvessel density within the treated tumors fell by 93%. This new therapy utilizing nanosecond pulsed electric fields has the advantages of highly localized targeting of tumor cells and a total exposure time of only 180 microsec. These pulses penetrate into the interior of every tumor cell and initiate DNA fragmentation and apoptosis while at the same time reducing blood flow to the tumor. This new physical tumor therapy is drug free, highly localized, uses low energy, has no significant side effects and results in very little scarring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Melanoma, Experimental / blood supply
  • Melanoma, Experimental / therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Recurrence
  • Remission Induction
  • Skin Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Calcium