This project will culminate in the development of a combinatorial therapy that enhances high-frequency irreversible electroporation (H-FIRE) focal ablation, surpassing traditional therapies in terms of ability to selectively target infiltrative cells beyond the tumor margin of glioblastoma (GBM). H-FIRE is a new, minimally invasive ablation technique that involves delivering a series of electric pulses that are low in energy, but intense (~1000 V) and short (~1 us) to targeted tissue for approximately 5 minutes. These pulses destabilize the cell membranes of the targeted tissue, inducing cell death without causing thermal damage. H-FIRE creates complete and predictable cell ablation with a sharp transition between normal and necrotic tissue. Furthermore, H-FIRE preserves important tissue components such as extracellular matrix, myelin sheaths, blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. We hypothesize that infiltrative cells (beyond the H-FIRE treated zone) can be selectively killed using a low dose of an anti-GBM drug in combination with H-FIRE, resulting in complete regression of tumors while preventing infiltration beyond the tumor margins. For tumor cells outside the zone of tissue ablation, there is a non-destructive increase in blood-brain barrier permeability, thus, making them more susceptible to the administered agents and thus making the combination of IRE and adjuvant agents synergistic. By focusing on brain cancer, we will be directly addressing the need to develop alternative approaches to radiation and chemotherapy, both of which have adverse side effects and limited efficacy. The project has three Specific Aims.
In Aim 1, we will develop optimized treatment parameters for H-FIRE targeting penetration into the infiltrative niche of GBM, with a combination of H-FIRE and delivery of liposomal doxorubicin tested in a 3D micro-engineered tumor/blood-brain-barrier model (BBB).
In Aim 2, we will leverage rodent models of invasive GBM for both 3D model validation, and testing of the efficacy of combinatorial treatment protocols in a more physiological relevant in vivo setting.
In Aim 3, we will assess our combinatorial treatment strategy to treat spontaneous brain tumors in canine patients. If successful, this study will provide the foundation for a new form of cancer therapy capable of surpassing conventional treatments for targeting of the bulk tumor, as well as the infiltrative GBM cells beyond the tumor margin. If successful, this hybrid approach will eliminate the likelihood of tumor recurrence, while preserving the vital healthy surrounding tissue and minimizing the adverse side effects that are associated with standard therapies.

Public Health Relevance

High-frequency irreversible electroporation (H-FIRE) is a new, minimally invasive, non-thermal focal ablation technique that kills cells through loss of homeostasis induced by a series of low-energy electric pulses. This technique offers several potential advantages for the treatment of glioblastoma (GBM), including preservation of nerves, connective tissue and major blood vessels, the potential for targeted ablation of malignant cells based on their altered morphologies, as well as enabling localized and reversible disruption of the blood-brain- barrier for improved delivery of adjuvant chemotherapies. In this project we will test our hypothesis that a combinatorial H-FIRE therapy will lead to significantly enlarged treatment volumes and selective removal of infiltrative cells, conducting studies in 3D tissue engineered and rodent GBM models, as well as spontaneous canine GBM which is an excellent and proven translational model.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Hartshorn, Christopher
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Engineering (All Types)
Biomed Engr/Col Engr/Engr Sta
United States
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