Biomedical engineers have developed a new, minimally-invasive prostate cancer treatment which is about to be trialled on patients.
The new process has been developed by Dr Rafael Davalos of Virginia Tech and University of California professor Boris Rubinsky.
A series of short, intense electric pulses is applied to cancer cells, increasing their permeability so that a permanent opening is created in the cell membrane and the cells eventually die.
Dr Davalos commented: "We did not use any drugs, the cells were destroyed, and the vessel architecture was preserved.
"The reliable killing of a targeted area … without affecting surrounding tissue or nearby blood vessels is key," he added.
The prostate cancer treatment has so far been tested in rats, but the researcher said that it shows promise as a "minimally invasive, inexpensive surgical technique to treat cancer", being easy to apply, unaffected by local blood flow, and easy to monitor and control.
This latest research is featured in a special issue of Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment.