Multicenter randomized controlled trial and registry study to assess the safety and efficacy of the NanoKnife® system for the ablation of stage 3 pancreatic adenocarcinoma: overview of study protocols

BMC Cancer. 2021 Jul 7;21(1):785. doi: 10.1186/s12885-021-08474-4.


Background: Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a local ablation technique utilizing high voltage, low energy direct current to create nanopores in cell membrane which disrupt homeostasis and leads to cell death. Previous reports have suggested IRE may have a role in treating borderline resectable and unresectable Stage 3 pancreatic tumors.

Methods: Patients with Stage 3 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) will be enrolled in either a randomized, controlled, multicenter trial (RCT) or a multicenter registry study. Subjects enrolled in the RCT must have no evidence of disease progression after 3 months of modified FOLFIRINOX (mFOLFIRINOX) treatment prior to being randomization to either a control or IRE arm. Post-induction and post-IRE treatment for the control and IRE arms, respectively, will be left to the discretion of the treating physician. The RCT will enroll 528 subjects with 264 per arm and include up to 15 sites. All subjects will be followed for at least 24 months or until death. The registry study will include two cohorts of patients with Stage 3 PDAC, patients who received institutional standard of care (SOC) alone and those treated with IRE in addition to SOC. Both cohorts will be required to have undergone at least 3 months of SOC without progression prior to enrollment. The registry study will enroll 532 patients with 266 patients in each arm. All patients will be followed for at least 24 months or until death. The primary efficacy endpoint for both studies will be overall survival (OS). Co-primary safety endpoints will be 1) time from randomization or enrollment in the registry to death or new onset of Grade 4 adverse event (AE), and (2 high-grade complications defined as any AE or serious AE (SAE) with a CTCAE v5.0 grade of 3 or higher. Secondary endpoints will include progression-free survival, cancer-related pain, quality of life, and procedure-related pain for the IRE arm only.

Discussion: These studies are intended to provide Level 1 clinical evidence and real-world data demonstrating the clinical utility and safety of the use of IRE in combination with chemotherapy in patients with Stage 3 PDAC.

Trial registration: NCT03899636 and NCT03899649. Registered April 2, 2019. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) trial G180278 approved on May 3, 2019.

Keywords: Ablation; Irreversible electroporation; Locally advanced pancreatic cancer; Modified FOLFIRINOX; NanoKnife system; Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ablation Techniques / methods*
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Registries
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data