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Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology








Bioelectrics is a new interdisciplinary field that investigates electric field effects on cell membranes and other cellular components. It incorporates four main technologies, including electroporation, nanosecond pulsed electric fields, picosecond pulsed electric fields and cold plasmas. The parent technology in Bioelectrics is electroporation, which uses milli- and/or micro-second electric pulses to permeabilize cells and tissues, for delivery of membrane impermeable molecules. It is now being used for electro-gene delivery, with vascular endothelial growth factor, for revascularization in wound healing and cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease. Plasmids expressing IL-12 are being delivered for immune system activation in melanoma treatment, now in phase II clinical trials. DNA vaccine delivery by electroporation is also being investigated. More recently, electroporation has been extended to include nanosecond pulsed electric fields (nsPEFs), a pulse power technology that was originally designed for military applications. It stores intense levels of electric energy, and then unleashes nanosecond bursts of instantaneous power into cells and tissues, creating unique intracellular conditions of high power and low, non-thermal energy. It is presently being used for cancer ablation of skin and internal tumors, and for platelet activation for wound healing in injury and diabetes. An extension of nsPEFs is to make the pulses even shorter, using picosecond pulsed electric fields. This is being developed as an imaging system to detect cancer and other aberrant tissues, using an antenna. The fourth technology is cold plasmas or ionized gasses, a fourth state of matter. Applications of these ionized gases are being developed for decontaminating wounds, water, food and surfaces. Other possible applications that are of specific interest, but not yet fully investigated, and/or developed, are pain control, fat ablation and decontamination of indwelling catheters. This review will outline some applications of Bioelectrics, with greatest focus on nsPEF effects on cells in vitro and tumors in vivo.

Original Publication Citation

Beebe, S. J. (2013). Bioelectrics in basic science and medicine: Impact of electric fields on cellular structures and functions. Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology, 04(02). doi: 10.4172/2157-7439.1000163