Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Electroproation-based technologies and treatments

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.06.00  Engineering sciences and technologies  Systems and cybernetics   
3.04.00  Medical sciences  Oncology   

Code Science Field
B000  Biomedical sciences   

Code Science Field
2.06  Engineering and Technology  Medical engineering  
electroporation, electroporation devices, numerical modeling, neoplasms, electroextraction, biotechnologicaly relevant molecules, cell membrane, PEF treatment, gene therapy, DNA vaccination, pasteurization, tissue ablation, downstream processing, green energy
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (29)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  53518  Katja Balantič  Systems and cybernetics  Junior researcher  2019 - 2021  15 
2.  19722  PhD Tina Batista Napotnik  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  59 
3.  55927  Anja Blažič  Systems and cybernetics  Junior researcher  2021  12 
4.  51906  PhD Helena Cindrič  Systems and cybernetics  Junior researcher  2018 - 2021  23 
5.  37507  PhD Janja Dermol Černe  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  67 
6.  36462  PhD Tadeja Forjanič  Oncology  Junior researcher  2015 - 2017  14 
7.  29041  PhD Saša Haberl Meglič  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  109 
8.  30022  Duša Hodžić  Systems and cybernetics  Technical associate  2015 - 2021  23 
9.  38241  PhD Vid Jan  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2021  33 
10.  14772  PhD Tomaž Jarm  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  212 
11.  38121  PhD Anja Kavčič  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2021  36 
12.  30687  PhD Bor Kos  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  177 
13.  15675  PhD Tadej Kotnik  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  204 
14.  23976  PhD Peter Kramar  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  178 
15.  29553  PhD Matej Kranjc  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  97 
16.  53516  Žana Lovšin  Systems and cybernetics  Junior researcher  2019 - 2021  11 
17.  12537  PhD Alenka Maček - Lebar  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  220 
18.  34298  PhD Samo Mahnič-Kalamiza  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2018 - 2021  74 
19.  34300  PhD Marija Marčan  Computer science and informatics  Junior researcher  2015  32 
20.  10268  PhD Damijan Miklavčič  Systems and cybernetics  Head  2015 - 2021  1,492 
21.  31983  PhD Denis Pavliha  Computer science and informatics  Researcher  2015 - 2016  51 
22.  20822  PhD Nataša Pavšelj  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2016  82 
23.  38115  PhD Eva Pirc  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  38 
24.  39223  PhD Tamara Polajžer  Systems and cybernetics  Junior researcher  2016 - 2021  30 
25.  50659  PhD Tjaša Potočnik  Systems and cybernetics  Junior researcher  2017 - 2021  32 
26.  25421  PhD Matej Reberšek  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2021  163 
27.  35414  PhD Lea Rems  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2020  84 
28.  55921  Marko Stručić  Systems and cybernetics  Junior researcher  2021  12 
29.  37123  Lea Vukanović    Researcher  2015 - 2021  15 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  1538  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Electrical Engineering  Ljubljana  1626965  27,599 
Electroporation is a well established method used to increase permeability of the cell plasma membrane for molecules otherwise deprived of membrane transport mechanisms, by an externally applied electrical field. Its broad spectrum of applications extends into different fields, such as medicine, biotechnology, 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 knowledge about the phenomenon involved in plasma membrane electroporation, 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 experimentally. There is a definitive need for better understanding of the phenomena involved and further development and refinement of protocols, which will allow us to fine-tune the processes and treatments based on electroporation. The research group proposing this research programme has, for over a decade, 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, 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 technologies and treatments, and develop new applications.
Significance for science
Within the proposed programme we address important challenges: development of new cancer treatments; nonviral gene delivery for gene therapy of acquired and inherited diseases; development of new reliable soft tissue ablation methods; development of drug delivery methods such as transdermal delivery; enabling economic viability of biotechnological processes through increased efficiency and reduced costs of down-stream processing; availability of new proteins for food and feed; biodiesel production from renewable sources. These topics can also be found as research topics of Horizon2020 Programme. Gene therapy is a promising approach in a number of 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 methods. 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 metastasis, pancreatic and brain tumors, based on individualized treatment plans. In this respect, an important contribution will be further development of individualized treatment planning procedure (including development of the software) for ECT of deep-seated tumors, which was initiated by our group in the past few years. Extraction of biologically relevant molecules by means of electroporation is based on electrically induced changes in the cell membrane leading to leakage of intracellular molecules and has been demonstrated in bacteria, yeast and microalgae. Extraction of proteins, lipids, pDNA can be performed in laboratory, but also on a large scale by using a flow-through electroporation system. Adjustment of the electric field parameters and other experimental conditions allows for optimization of the yield of extracted molecules and avoidance of debris formation, thus greatly reducing the need for extensive and cost-intense purification of biotechnologically relevant molecules. Extraction of these molecules by means of electroporation shows great promise, as it is reproducible, continuous, quick, cost-effective and can be easily incorporated into existing production lines. 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 engineering of processes, treatments and procedures leading to better reproducibility of research, robust industrial processes and successful clinical procedures.
Significance for the country
The results obtained in the context of the proposed programme will allow introduction of new methods, technologies and treatments in Slovenia, offering ample opportunities for training of students and researchers, as well as extensive student and personnel exchange, due to its strong international connections. Regular organization of Electroporation-based Technologies and Treatments postgraduate course and workshop continues to attract researchers and postgraduate students from around the world to Slovenia. The leadership in the COST TD1104 Action (chair/coordinator: Prof. Dr. Damijan Miklavčič) further strengthens the visibility of Slovenian science in the world. The main event which will be organized by COST TD1104 Action will be the 1st Wolrd Congress on Electroporation held in Portorož, Slovenia from September 6-10, 2015 (http://wc2015.electroporation.net). The research group is gender balanced and offers equal opportunities to everyone. Specifically, research results have in the past brought direct benefit to both domestic and foreign companies and these collaborations will be maintained and strengthened in the future. We provide two explicit examples: 1) A Slovenian-based company Iskra Medical has incorporated the knowledge obtained from the collaboration with the research programme into its device for capacitive radio-frequency heating of subcutaneous tissue, which accounts for more than 15 % of total sale revenues of the company. This collaboration will be maintained in the future, offering theoretical support for the company in the form of numerical models, and making use of the newly established laboratory environment for transdermal drug delivery testing. 2) The collaboration of the research programme with a Slovenian-based company C3M yielded software for treatment planning of electrochemotherapy (ECT) of deep-seated tumors to be used by the medical device manufacturer IGEA, Italy, which opened a new market segment for the company as providers of specialized software for modeling and treatment planning of ECT. The software is based on a numerical model and allows the calculation of the optimal configuration of electrodes for a given tumor. This collaboration provided the company C3M with access to the latest knowledge in the field of electroporation, and offers a platform for the development and testing of new models and concepts for software solutions. Our research programme is currently directly involved in three clinical studies on electrochemotherapy, in collaboration with University Medical Centres in Ljubljana and Maribor, and Institute of Oncology in Ljubljana. These are three top public medical institutions in Slovenia that will have direct access to any and all clinically-relevant achievements of the proposed research programme. This transfer of knowledge will contribute to improved recognition of the hospitals and to accessibility of newly developed treatment modalities to patients in Slovenia.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, interim report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2015, interim report
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