The technology is designed to treat solid tumors that are hypoxic at the center, meaning the core contains low oxygen levels.
“This is not good because radiation therapy needs oxygen to be effective,” said Babak Ziaie, a Purdue University professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering. “So the hypoxic areas are hard to kill. Pancreatic and cervical cancers are notoriously hypoxic. If you generate oxygen you can increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy and also chemotherapy.”
The new “implantable micro oxygen generator” is an electronic device that receives ultrasound signals and uses the energy to generate a small voltage to separate oxygen and hydrogen from water – a chemical operation called water electrolysis.
Researchers have created and tested a miniature device, seen here, that can be implanted in tumors to generate oxygen, boosting the killing power of radiation and chemotherapy. The technology is designed to treat solid tumors that are hypoxic at the center, meaning the core contains low oxygen levels. The device (right) fits inside a tube (left) that can then be inserted into a tumor with a biopsy needle. (Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)
Researchers have tested the devices in pancreatic tumors implanted in mice, showing they generated oxygen and shrunk tumors faster than tumors without the devices. The devices are slightly less than one centimeter long and are inserted into tumors with a hypodermic biopsy needle.
In this paper, we present an ultrasonically-powered Implantable Micro Oxygen Generator (IMOG) that is capable of in situ tumor oxygenation through water electrolysis. Such active mode of oxygen generation is not affected by increased interstitial pressure or abnormal blood vessels that typically limit the systemic delivery of oxygen to hypoxic regions of solid tumors. Wireless ultrasonic powering (2.15 MHz) was employed to increase the penetration depth and eliminate the directional sensitivity associated with magnetic methods. In addition, ultrasonic powering allowed for further reduction in the total size of the implant by eliminating the need for a large area inductor. IMOG has an overall dimensions of 1.2~1.3~8 mm3, small enough to be implanted using a hypodermic needle or a trocar. In vitro and ex vivo experiments showed that IMOG is capable of generating more than 150 ÊA which in turn can create 0.525 ÊL per min of oxygen through electrolytic disassociation. In vivo experiments in a well-known hypoxic pancreatic tumor models (1 cm3 in size) also verified adequate in situ tumor oxygenation in less than ten minutes.