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Technology: Irreversible Electroporation (IRE)

Manufacturer: AngioDynamics Inc.

Purpose: IRE technology is designed to destroy cancer cells in a manner that spares all surrounding tissue and vessels. Lesions heal in as little as two weeks compared to years for radiation therapy. It is intended to safely treat a wide range of diseases, from liver tumors to prostate cancer.

Early adopter: The Alfred in Melbourne, Australia

How The Alfred uses it: In late November 2008, doctors at the Australian teaching hospital performed the first percutaneous uses of IRE technology on liver and kidney lesions using the NanoKnife system, which causes cell death by impacting the cell membranes with electrical pulses in targeted tissue, sparing nearby nerves, blood vessels, the lymphatic system, and other delicate structures.

Potential Improvement: Unlike thermal ablation modalities like cryo-ablation, microwave, and radiofrequency ablation, which destroy all cells and critical structures in targeted tissue, IRE technology targets specific cell structures without damaging surrounding tissue.

What's Next: AngioDynamics plans to file investigational device exemptions with the Food and Drug Administration to pursue more specific tissue indications.

Kathryn Mackenzie

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