Projects / Programmes source: ARRS

Electroproation-based technologies and treatments

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.06.00  Engineering sciences and technologies  Systems and cybernetics   
3.06.00  Medical sciences  Cardiovascular system   
electroporation, electroporation devices, numerical modeling, neoplasms, electroextraction, biotechnologicaly relevant molecules, cell membrane, PEF treatment, gene therapy, DNA vaccination, pasteurization, tissue ablation
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on October 1, 2022; A3 for period 2016-2020
Data for ARRS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  354  16,648  12,107  34.2 
Scopus  452  20,174  14,925  33.02 
Researchers (1)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publications
1.  10268  PhD Damijan Miklavčič  Systems and cybernetics  Principal Researcher  2022  1,411 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publications
1.  1538  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Electrical Engineering  Ljubljana  1626965  25,845 
Electroporation is a well established method that transiently increases permeability of the cell plasma membrane for molecules which are otherwise deprived of membrane transport mechanisms. This is achieved by exposing the cells to short high voltage electric pulses. Broad spectrum of electroporation applications as diverse as medicine, food technology, biotechnology, and environmental sciences. Experimentation with wide ranges of parameters of applied electric pulses has in the past led to the discovery and development of a number of electroporation-based technologies and treatments. These include cancer treatments, gene therapy, tissue ablation, cell fusion, food preservation and processing, and water treatment, to name only few. Current understanding of the mechanisms involved in plasma membrane electroporation, the transmembrane transport of molecules and other accompanying phenomena is, however, still incomplete. Vast majority of the protocols based on electroporation used in biomedicine, food processing, and biotechnology are determined only empirically. There is therefore a need for better understanding of the mechanisms and phenomena involved to further develop and optimize protocols, processes and treatments based on electroporation. The research group proposing this research programme has been one of the leading groups in the area of electroporation, achieving this status by its unique and markedly interdisciplinary composition. This wealth of complementary knowledge gives the group an opportunity to address the topic of electroporation and its applications from various angles, through experimentation and concurrent development of hardware and mathematical models on different levels of biological complexity: from lipid bilayers, vesicles, and biological cells, to tissues and organs. In the proposed research programme, the joint efforts of our interdisciplinary team will be dedicated to the use of existing facilities and various prototypes of electroporation devices to advance the knowledge of basic principles of electroporation, with the aim to improve existing electroporation based technologies and treatments, and to develop new applications.
Significance for science
The proposed research program builds on previous experiences and achievements. Through its work and efforts, the group is developing new knowledge and skills that improve each member as an individual as well as the group to be apt in addressing and solving complex problems. New knowledge and skills that are being developed are important for advancing the science of electroporation and developing new, as well as improving existing electroporation-based technologies and treatments. Furthermore, the knowledge and skills on specific methodology and technology developed is transferable to other fields. Contribution to science is evident from a number of highly cited publications authored by the group in scientific journals and presentations given at international scientific conferences, whereas the members' contribution to the profession is evident from published scholarly books and book chapters, as well as other published teaching material. Gene therapy is a promising approach for several diseases that currently lack successful treatment options. It has been suggested that electroporation as a nonviral approach in gene delivery may represent an improvement over viral gene transfection method. It is one of our major goals to improve electroporation transfection efficiency by developing adequate instrumentation and protocols. By advancing electroporation-based treatments, we are also aiming at developing other minimally invasive therapies based on electroporation, such as electrochemotherapy (ECT) and irreversible electroporation (IRE) for treatment of deep seated tumors, and at providing tools for treatment of cancers with poor prognosis and no efficient therapies available, including bone metastases, pancreatic and brain tumors. In this respect, an important contribution will be further development of individualized treatment planning procedures (including development of the software) for ECT of deep-seated tumors and design of new electrodes and electroporation chambers. By advancing existent and developing new electroporation-based technologies and treatments, new knowledge will be acquired, allowing complete understanding of electroporation from the membrane to tissue level. This knowledge will be incorporated into mathematical models that will allow more efficient engineering of processes, treatments and procedures leading to better reproducibility of research, robust industrial processes and successful clinical procedures.
Significance for Slovenia
The results obtained within the proposed programme will contribute to the development of science and profession, will contribute to the development of new products and technologies, and will contribute to the development and will enable the introduction of new methods, technologies and treatment procedures in the Republic of Slovenia. New opportunities for student training and exchange will be created. Researchers and students will benefit through the group's excellent international network. The annual organization of the international scientific workshop and postgraduate school Electroporation-based Technologies and Treatments in Slovenia continues to attract top-tier educators, researchers and postgraduate students from all over the world. The results of the research group have in the past created direct benefits to domestic and foreign companies, and we will continue to cooperate with them also in the future. Numerous technologies and processes based on electroporation can bring great health benefits to the society. Among the most important are the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias, oncology, and gene vaccination. The research programme has been actively involved in the development of methods and treatments for oncological therapies, and in the recent funding period, it has also been involved in top-notch efforts to use electroporation in cardiac electrophysiology. In cardiology, the irreversible electroporation is expected to become the dominant method for catheter ablation in treatment of cardiac arrhythmias, thereby improving both the safety and efficacy of therapies. Several advances in oncology have been shown to offer healing options to patients who were previously only offered palliative care. Electroporation will also be extremely important in the advancement of gene therapy, which will depend on the successful development of non-viral delivery vectors, such as electroporation.
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