Scientific programme

Electropermeabilization (also called electroporation) is a significant increase in the electrical conductivity and permeability of the cell membrane that occurs when pulses of large amplitude (a few hundred volts per centimeter) are applied to the cells: due to the electric field, the cell membrane is permeabilized, and then nonpermeant molecules can easily enter the cell cytoplasm by diffusion through the electropermeabilized membranes. If the pulses are too long, too numerous or if their amplitude is too high, the cell membrane is irreversibly destroyed and the cells are killed. However, if the pulse duration is sufficiently short (a few milliseconds or a few microseconds, depending on the pulse amplitude), the cell membrane reseals within several tens of minutes: this is termed reversible electroporation, which preserves the cell viability and is used in electrochemotherapy to vectorize the drugs until the cell inside. The first clinical use of electrochemotherapy (with bleomycin) was performed in 1990 at the Institute Gustave Roussy (IGR) in France. Eight pulses of 100 μs duration with amplitude of 1kV/cm were used. Many clinical studies (phase II and phase III) have proven that electrochemotherapy of cutaneous or subcutaneous metastases or tumors, either with bleomycin or with cisplatin, displays an objective response rate of more than 80%. Reduction of tumor size has been achieved with electrochemotherapy faster and more efficiently than in standard chemotherapy for both cutaneous and subcutaneous tumors. Hence the efficacy of such a treatment has been proven for superficial metastases. One of the main challenges of the current cancer research is to provide new electrochemotherapeutical protocols for the deep tumors, such as metastases located in the liver or in the brain that cannot be easily attainable by the electrodes. At the beginning of January 2012, a clinical trial of electrochemotherapy with micropulses for brain tumors (gliomas) will start at the Herlev Hospital of Copenhagen, and a consortium including the IGR, the Hôpital Saint-Anne of Paris and the Herlev Hospital has submitted a project for brain tumors treatment by electrochemotherapy at the European level. The difficulty for such tumors is that they cannot be walked-around with the electrodes since only a small part of the tumor is attainable through surgery and the vital organs do not have to be damaged. The physicians are then confronted to practical problems:
  • Which pulses should be used to electroporate the entire tumor without electropermeabilizing irreversibly the surrounding healthy tissues?
  • What are the best electrodes positions for a given electrode geometry?
  • What is the best electrode design for a specific tumor?
Due to the urgency of treating patients with gliomas -since the current treatments are still not efficient- the forthcoming protocols will use the pulse parameters of previous clinical trials for superficial tumors. However it seems necessary to investigate whether an optimization of the pulse delivery can be achieved. Despite the active research on the electroporation phenomenon and its therapeutical applications (electrochemotherapy, electrogene-therapy and non thermal irreversible electroporation), the bioelectrochemistry community presents a “lack of knowledge” on the basics of the cell electropermeabilization phenomenon, and more precisely in the modeling of this phenomenon at both microscopic and macroscopic scales. The MEMOVE project aims at modeling the electropermeablization, from the cell scale to the tissue level, in order to provide efficient tools that can be used in the long term in clinical trials. Generally speaking, the modeling will be performed in close collaboration with the experimenters of the consortium. This will ensure an accurate modeling of the biological phenomena, by avoiding non- fittable models that cannot be validated by the experiments. The scientific progresses of the experimental research will help the progress of both theoretical and numerical research, and vice versa.

  • The scientific programme is detailed here

  • News and Events

  • 15th-16th Dec 2014:
    Workshop on electroporation and Biophysical therapies
  • 2nd-3rd Sept 2014:
    Meeting at Villejuif
  • 6th March 2014:
    Meeting at Lyon
  • 7-8th October 2013:
    Meeting at Paris (CR)
  • 19-20th february 2013:
    Meeting at Bordeaux (CR)
  • 14-15th November 2012:
    Meeting at Lyon (CR)
  • 13th March 2012:
    Meeting at Paris (CR)
  • January 2012:
    Kick-off meeting at Bordeaux
  • Links

  • ARC C3MB (2009-2010)
  • ANR INTCELL (2011-2013)


  • Project Coordinator

    Clair POIGNARD (website)
    EPI MC2
    INRIA Bordeaux-Sud Ouest
    351 Cours de la Libération
    F-33405 Talence, France
    webmaster