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Content archived on 2024-05-27

Development of Microsystems for In-Vivo Human Gene Therapy


The objective is to develop a non-surgical treatment for oesophageal cancer - A microelectrode-based microsystem for use in vivo with an endoscope. This will be useful for the electroporation of tumours in order to deliver effective gene therapy. We will use 3 types of electrodes. Such a non-surgical cancer therapy will be very welcome progress in the fight against oesophageal cancer, improving the treatments currently available (both in terms of localisation of the gene delivery and greater comfort for the patient), and increasing patient survival rates. The consortium has the necessary wide-ranging experience in electrode and instrumentation fabrication as well as systems integration into endoscopic catheters. One of the partners is a cancer research centre, where the system will be tested and optimised.

Current cancer treatment uses 3 main modalities alone or in combination: chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Each of these carries associated morbidity and mortality with increased demands on healthcare services.

The project will produce a non-surgical means of treating oesophageal cancer through increased functionality of endoscopic catheters by developing electrode systems for gene therapy. We wish to explore techniques where both diagnosis and treatment of cancer is minimally invasive. These techniques allow gene therapy via endoscopic access, directly to the site of the tumour, or into an easily accessible muscle for systematic delivery. The development will consist of electrode arrays on silicon and flexible substrates, incorporated in a microsystem, which can be integrated with an endoscopic catheter including control instrumentation. This product will facilitate the electroporation of tumour cells in order to deliver the effective gene therapy.

Work description:
Development of a novel, non-invasive and targeted electroporation system for in-vivo gene therapy of oesophageal cancers. Partner know-how in noble metal electrode array fabrication on silicon and flexible substrates, development of silicon needle fabrication capability; packaging and interconnection of the electrode arrays to the driver electronic instrumentation.%lThen the integration of this novel microsystem in an endoscopic catheter for application in tumour treatments using electroporation. Trials at the cancer research partner to identify optimum electrode array designs and packaging methodologies, and thus to develop effective anti-tumour treatment protocols. Co-ordination of the consortium and task sharing is outlined in the Work Packages, whose titles and leader partners are listed here.

WP0 Project Management;
WP1 Modelling and Design of Microelectrodesand Construction of Electroporation Model;
WP2 Process Development and Fabrication of Microelectrode Arrays;
WP3 Packaging of Microelectrode Arrays for Electroporation;
WP4 Control Instrumentation for the Electroporation Microsystem;
WP5 Mediated Gene Transfer by Electroporation of DNA;
WP6 Systems Integration onto Endoscopic Catheter;
WP7 On-catheter Endoporator Mediated Electroporation;
WP8 Dissemination and Exploitation;
WP9 Co-ordination / Project Management;
WP10 Assessment and Evaluation.

Principle milestones are:
1) System specification (M3);
2) Modelling and design of electrodes (M18 for final version);
3) Fabrication of electrode arrays of 3 types, viz silicon planar electrodes (M12), flexible electrodes (M12) and silicon needle electrodes (M18);
4) Suitable packaging and interconnection options for the arrays (M24);
5) Development of suitable instrumentation (M18 for optimised version);
6) Systems integration onto endoscopic catheters (M30);
7) Successful gene delivery therapy for treatment of oesophageal cancer (M36).

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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Total cost
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Participants (4)