Punching holes in tumor cells

Berkeley engineers developed a way to destroy cell walls without harming nearby tissue vessels, a breakthrough that has since become a surgical technique that attacks difficult-to-remove tumors. In 2008, UC Berkeley licensed the irreversible electroporation (IRE) technology to medical device manufacturer AngioDynamics for use in its NanoKnife System. The minimally invasive surgical system, which uses microsecond electrical pulses to punch nanoscale holes into cell walls, has received FDA approval for soft tissue removal, and is being evaluated for the treatment of prostate, liver and pancreatic cancer. The NanoKnife System generated $7.3 million in revenue last year and has been used for more than 850 patients.