Electroporation "Knife" for Cancer

A new electrical approach to cutting out cancerous tumors

4 min read

4 February 2009—Electroporation, a technique that microbiologists have long used experimentally to temporarily punch holes in cell membranes and ferry drugs or genes into them, may yield new benefits for cancer treatment, according to medical-device firm AngioDynamics, in Queensbury, N.Y. Last month, the company showed off an electroporation device that it claims can kill cancerous tumor cells with remarkable specificity while inflicting little or no damage on surrounding structures and causing no pain for the patient.

Such claims, if they hold up, would have a tremendous impact on a cancer surgery technique called tumor ablation, in which doctors rely on either chemical treatments or an array of techniques that heat up or cool down the tumor tissue until it succumbs. Because they kill with temperature, these therapies affect all tissue indiscriminately, wiping out blood vessels along with the cancer cells and potentially causing bleeding. Electroporation, on the other hand, does not produce enough heat to disrupt nearby tissue.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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