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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

Emerging Therapies – QV Bioelectronics

by Nicola Gale

We want to keep you updated and informed on the exciting developments with brain tumours. To complement our technical Worldwide Research News published each Saturday, this blog series aims to keep you informed on the progress happening in the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumours. Our ‘Emerging Therapies’ series delves into recent developments and provides a more in-depth explanation of what scientists are trying to achieve and how the research could benefit patients.

Electric field therapy implant for brain tumour treatment

UK company, QV Bioelectronics has raised £2 million from new and existing venture capital funding to further develop and complete pre-clinical studies for a first-of-its-kind implanted medical device to treat brain tumour patients with electric field therapy. They have also been selected for a customised accelerator at the Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Factory, which supports UK businesses to develop in the United States. For the news article, click here.

Figure 1 – Photo Credit QV Bioelectronics (pictured right)

How does the treatment work?

The surgically implanted device, Glioma Resection Advanced Cavity Electric Field Therapy, known as GRACE, treats brain tumours using Electric Field Therapy (EFT) which targets dividing cancer cells within the brain, without affecting healthy cells.

Cancerous cells differ significantly from normal cells. They have an increased rate of cell division which leads them to build up and form a mass. EFT exploits this feature by delivering electric fields at specific frequencies to disrupt the mechanisms involved in this cell division. It halts the process and prevents the further build-up of cells, as well as causing affected cells to die. Since normal cells undergo cell division at a much lower rate, they are not affected by the treatment.

Figure 2 - Photo Credit QV Bioelectronics

GRACE is an implanted device that is designed to treat glioblastoma (GBM) patients. The first treatment for GBM is surgery; neurosurgeons, depending on the location of the tumour, try to remove as much tumour as possible without damaging healthy tissue. However, GBM tumours are ‘diffuse’ which means they infiltrate healthy areas of the brain adjacent to the tumour and, as a result, some tumour cells will almost always be left behind, continue to grow and are responsible for the recurrence.

This device is intended to be implanted when the patient undergoes surgical removal of their tumour (to avoid the risk of multiple surgeries) and deliver EFT directly to the tumour resection margins, where up to 90% of GBM recurrence takes place, with the intention to prevent/stall recurrence and improve outcomes.

How could it benefit patients?

GRACE is intended to help GBM patients have longer and better quality lives after diagnosis.

To be at its most effective, EFT needs to be running for at least 18 hours per day. By delivering through an implant, it is hoped that GRACE can provide continuous therapy whilst minimising its impact on the patient’s quality of life.

What stage is the research at now?

GRACE is an experimental device which is not currently approved for human use and is still several years away from being utilised in the clinic.

QV Bioelectronics plans to expand pre-clinical studies to assess the safety and efficacy of the GRACE implant, alongside the completion of device design prior to entering the clinical phase of development.

A review into Medical Device Advances in the Treatment of Glioblastoma was published in 2022 and can be found here.

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