INSPIRE Therapy

Integrated nanosecond pulse irreversible electroporation (INSPIRE) is an exciting new cancer therapy which destroys tumors using bursts of electric pulses. 
Bursts of high voltage (1000 - 6000 V) pulses are delivered directly into the tumor for 100 seconds, destroying the tumor cells while leaving blood vessels, nerves, and other critical structures intact.


Our laboratory specializes in the development of the high voltage electronics required to to treat tumors clinically. Starting with the size and location of common patient tumors, we derive the device specifications required to destroy these tumors in a single treatment. Then custom electronics and electrodes are designed, built, and tested in our laboratory. Investigations are underway for the treatment of liver, breast, kidney, pancreatic, and brain tumors between 1 - 6 cm. 

These systems are capable of generating a variety of output waveforms including traditional monopolar IRE pulses and INSPIRE bursts with constitutive pulses between 250 nanoseconds and 100 microseconds.


They are completely software controlled and include advanced safety systems including automated arc detection which can shut off the system in as little as 3.4 microseconds after an arc occurs. 
We use complex computational models to examine how different pulses affect treatment outcomes. Promising techniques are then tested in vitro, as shown above, before being implemented in vivo. We have found that there are multiple strategies which enhance the lethality of INSPIRE treatments and enable us to treat larger tumors. Modulating the waveform symmetry is a promising technique, in addition to increasing the voltage, duration, and energy of treatment bursts, for improving treatment outcomes. 


INSPIRE is a non-thermal tissue ablation therapy. However, some tissue heating can occur so treatment planning is used to ensure that the temperature does not cause thermal damage. 




Sub-lethal pulses can also be used to disrupt the blood brain barrier. This technique may be beneficial for the treatment of brain cancer or to increase the efficacy of neurological therapies which have difficulty crossing the blood brain barrier.

Live (green - Calcein AM) and dead (red - Propidium Iodide) prostate cancer cells in a 3D tumor mimic after INSPIRE treatment. This rapid therapy allows us to destroy cancer cells within a well defined volume. 


Sub-lethal electroporation can be used to transport large molecules into cells. As a proof of concept, Phallodin, which is unable to passively enter the cell, is transported under a sub-lethal electric field, allowing it to bind to actin filaments (green).