Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment








Irreversible lethal electroporation (IRE) is a new non-thermal ablation modality that uses short pulses of high amplitude static electric fields (up 1000V/cm) to create irreversible pores in the cell membrane, thus, causing cell death. Recently, IRE has emerged as a promising clinical modality for cancer disease treatment. Here, we investigated the responses of tumour human He La cells when subjected to IRE in the presence of BNNTs. These consist of tiny tubes of B and N atoms (arranged in hexagons) with diameters ranging from a 1 to 3 nanometres and lengths <2 μm. BNNTs have attracted wide attention because of their unique electrical properties. We speculate that BNNTs, when interacting with cells exposed to static electrical fields, amplify locally the electric field, leading to cell death. In this work, electroporation assays were performed with a commercial electroporator using the cell-specific protocol suggested by the supplier (exponential decay wave, time constant 20ms) with the specific aim to compare IRE in absence and in presence of BNNTs. We observed that BNNTs have the capacity to decrease substantially the voltage required for IRE. When cells were pulsed at 800V/cm, we observed a 2,2-fold reduction in cell survival in the presence of BNNTs compared to controls. We conclude that the death of the tumour cells exposed to IRE is strongly enhanced in the presence of BNNTs, indicating their potential therapeutic application.


"Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment (TCRT) is a broad-spectrum, open access, peer-reviewed publication whose aim is to provide researchers and clinicians with a platform to share and discuss developments in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of cancer."

Original Publication Citation

Raffa, V., Riggio, C., Smith, M. W., Jordan, K. C., Cao, W., & Cuschieri, A. (2012). BNNT-mediated irreversible electroporation: Its potential on cancer cells. Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment, 11(5), 459-465. doi:10.7785/tcrt.2012.500258

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Oncology Commons