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Electric Pulses Induce Lung Cancer Immune Response

Lung cancer illustration


6 Nov. 2023. Results of a clinical trial show a lung cancer therapy using highly focused pulses with electrical energy show signs of immune responses that can treat the patients’ tumors. A team from the medical device company Galvanize Therapeutics Inc. in San Carlos, California reported the findings on Friday at a meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer in San Diego.

Galvanize Therapeutics develops therapies for chronic bronchitis, atrial fibrillation, and solid tumor cancers with short high-voltage electrical pulses delivered to the disease site. The company says the electric pulses create an electric field that destabilizes the target cells leading to cell death. Because the technology does not use heat, says Galvanize, the treatments do not harm the extracellular matrix, supportive material around cells, and limits inflammation in the targeted tissue. The company says its treatments deliver the electric pulses with dose levels and electrodes designed for the targeted organs and tissue.

The clinical trial is an early- and mid-stage study testing the Galvanize Therapeutics treatment for non-small cell lung cancer that accounts for 80 to 85 percent of all lung cancer cases. The company says its system, called Aliya PEF for pulsed electic field, is cleared by the Food and Drug Administration and used by surgeons to ablate or burn off tumor cells and tissue with an electrical field. At the same time, says Galvanize, early evidence suggests the Aliya treatments also release antigens that activate the immune system, adding to their therapeutic benefits. The study aims to assess immune responses to the Aliya treatments.

Higher proportions of immune-system cells

The trial enrolled 42 participants at sites in Spain, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong diagnosed with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer, of which 34 agreed to have their tumors resected with the Aliya treatment. The other eight patients served as a control group. The study team initially sought to track adverse effects from the treatments for 30 days following surgery, and note the ability of surgeons to access he tumor sites and deliver the electrical pulses. Earlier trial results, says Galvanize, show the treatments are safe and feasible for surgeons.

In this paper, the authors report on test results of blood, lung tissue, and tumor samples from treated and untreated patients, taken before and after surgery. RNA sequencing indicates several types of immune signals in treated patients that result in higher proportions of innate immune-system B-cells, T-cells, and neutrophils in patients receiving Aliya therapy. The authors also report flow cytometry, a technique analyzing laser light patterns through cells, indicates treated patients have higher levels of circulating B-cells and memory T-cells, suggesting an adaptive immune response. And the supportive microenvironments in lung tumors among treated patients show higher numbers of cancer-killing T-cells and B-cells, with tumor cells expressing more antigen genes for triggering further immune responses.

In a company statement released through Cision, founder and CEO of Galvanize Therapeutics Jonathan Waldstreicher says the clinical trial data underscore “the potential of Aliya PEF as a transformative approach in the fight against cancer. By harnessing the body’s own immune system, we are moving closer to offering patients a personalized and potentially more effective treatment option.”

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