GAINESVILLE, Fla., —
Radiologists at Shands at the University of Florida have used nanotechnology to precisely deliver electrical currents to destroy tumor cells in a patient with colon cancer.
On Feb. 25, James Caridi, M.D., and Jeffrey Vogel, M.D., interventional radiologists with the UF College of Medicine and the UF Shands Cancer Center, led a team using the IRE NanoKnife system to remove a malignant liver tumor in a 52-year-old patient with metastatic colon cancer.
Only 10 teams in the United States and 20 worldwide have used the technology, produced by AngioDynamics, Inc.
It works by using computerized tomography or ultrasound imaging to guide two or more fine-needle electrodes into the tumor. The electrodes deliver high-voltage, pulsating electrical currents that open microscopic pores in the cancer cells, rapidly killing the tumor. After such treatment, the body naturally removes the dead cancer cells.
“Interventional radiology is a rapidly emerging specialty in the oncology arena,” Caridi said. “We use precise imaging to diagnose and guide treatment of tumors using minimally invasive techniques.”
The NanoKnife procedure helps physicians minimize damage to the healthy tissue surrounding malignancies.
“Compared to traditional noninvasive techniques such as radiofrequency ablation or cryotherapy – which use extremely hot or cold temperatures, respectively – the NanoKnife significantly reduces so-called ‘collateral damage’ and scarring,” Caridi said.
The scar tissue left by these traditional procedures can make it difficult for physicians to determine if an entire tumor has been successfully treated. The NanoKnife does not produce scarring.
Shands patient Ashraf Elbohy, a pediatric neurologist from Orlando, was the 121st patient worldwide to have the procedure. Elbohy turned to UF after physicians in Tampa and Orlando told him the only treatment options were chemotherapy or surgery. Elbohy said he wanted an option other than chemotherapy, which would have an uncertain outcome, and surgery, which would have extended recovery time.
“Dr. Elbohy was ideally suited for this procedure with this technology,” Caridi said. “Using the NanoKnife, it was possible to destroy the tumor and potentially cure him of this cancer without damaging the surrounding tissue or the blood vessels that run very close to the tumor.”
Elbohy previously has undergone surgical resection, radiofrequency ablation, intraoperative chemotherapy and cryotherapy for recurrent liver tumors.
“Hopefully, my decision to use the NanoKnife not only will result in good outcomes for me, but will show other patients this is a safe and viable treatment for their cancer, further opening the door for improved cancer care in the future,” Elbohy said.
Vogel said that using the NanoKnife is the best option available to many patients with new or recurring soft-tissue tumors on their visceral organs, including the liver, prostate, lungs and kidneys. In many cases, it can eliminate the cancer completely.
“Although the other methods of treating tumors are good at killing the cancer, some tumors are too small or located too close to critical structures to risk surgery or exposure to extreme temperatures,” Vogel said. “For these cases, the NanoKnife may be both the best and only option the patient has for treating the cancer.”
The NanoKnife can be used to treat certain cancers, particularly those less than five centimeters in diameter. However, Vogel said it is not a replacement for traditional modalities, but “a powerful and precise weapon” to add to the growing number of medical and surgical treatments for fighting cancer.