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New clinical trials using electricity to zap cancer

New clinical trials at 12 major hospitals around the country are using electricity to zap cancer cells. One study participant who a year ago was given only six months to live. Michael Quatrano's head is covered with electrodes and he's tethered to this device and battery pack -- minor inconveniences after the surgery, radiation and chemotherapy that failed to stop his aggressive brain tumor from growing. Quatrano said, "Ever since I've been in this research I've been doing better, OK? So here we are, I feel good, I don't have all the reactions from chemo and radiation. And it's working out." Quatrano entered a clinical trial for the most common and lethal type of brain cancer. Neuro-oncologist Herb Engelhard explains it's based on a new finding that dividing cells are vulnerable to a certain strength of electrical energy which is harmless to normal cells. Dr. Engelhard, a neuro-oncologist explained, "Normally in the brain, cells aren't dividing at all. Very infrequently. And cancer cells are dividing very rapidly or very often." As published in "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," a safety study of ten patients in Europe found the treatment more than doubled their expected survival time on average. Engelhard says new treatments are badly needed. Dr. Engelhard said, "Very often we think of a tumor as being a separate mass, but this is really a cancer that by the time it's diagnosed it's already got cells migrating deep into the brain." Quatrano doesn't care if he needs to wear the device for the rest of his life. His advice to others diagnosed with this vicious opponent is, "Fight -- don't believe what they say about the six months and all that because in that time you go through a lot of drama in your head. And this thing is OK." The trial is still recruiting patients at a dozen major hospitals around the US. To tell if the device is truly effective, only half of the people will be selected to use the new device. Patients who aren't randomly assigned to the device get the most advanced available treatments.
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