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13/10/2014 (Added to site)
Author(s): Miklavcic, D.; Teissie, J.; Neumann, E.

Bio-Electroporation 2013 — New biotechnological and clinical applications

Journal: Bioelectrochemistry, 100/1 (2014), pp. 1-2
DOI: 10.1016/j.bioelechem.2014.08.002
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It is by now classical tradition to cover the topics of the scientific lectures of the biannual conferences of “The Bioelectrochemical Society” (BES) in the official journal of BES. Historically, BES was founded by Giulio Milazzo in 1979 and various bioelectrochemical topics were published in the journal “Bioelectrochemistry and Bioenergetics”, founded in 1974 by him; in 2000 the journal was renamed “Bioelectrochemistry”.

The present Special Issue “Bio-Electroporation” comprises selected and peer reviewed contributions to the Symposium on “Electroporation and Biomedical Applications” organized by COST TD1104 Action within the “XXIIth International Symposium on Bioelectrochemistry and Bioenergetics”.

The symposium “Electroporation and Biomedical Applications” was one of the eight symposia of the joint activities in the “22nd BES Symposium” and the “12th Topical Meeting of the Division 2 Bioelectrochemistry” of the “International Society of Electrochemistry” (ISE). The joint meeting was held 17–23 March 2013 in Bochum (Germany). The Scientific Organizing Committee comprised Professor Wolfgang Schumann (chair), Ruhr University Bochum; Lo Gorton, Lund; Alexander Kuhn, Pessac; Eberhard Neumann, Bielefeld; Ana Maria Oliveira Brett, Coimbra; Woonsup Shin, Seoul; and Gunther Wittstock, Oldenburg. The Ruhr University campus in the suburbs of Bochum hosted the symposium and proved to be an excellent venue for the symposium.

The organization of the BES Symposium on “Electroporation and Biomedical Applications” was co-chaired by Professor Damijan Miklavcic (University of Ljubljana) and Professor Eberhard Neumann (University of Bielefeld). The symposium sessions were organized by the COST TD1104 Action — “European network for development of electroporation-based technologies and treatments”. This special COST symposium brought together over 80 scientists from all around the world working in the multidisciplinary field of electroporation, covering topics of general biophysics, biotechnologies, medical physics and biomedical engineering. The purpose and intention were aiming at covering different aspects of the application of external electric field pulses to cell membranes including the basic concepts up to current biotechnology and medicine. The scientific program of the symposium started with a plenary lecture on “Thirty Years of Membrane Electroporation — Evolution of a Concept for Gene Electro-transfer towards Clinical Tumor Curing” (by E. Neumann). The program contained seven keynote lectures and twenty oral communications as well as numerous poster contributions mostly presented by younger participants. Prof. James C. Weaver, one of the keynote speakers, was awarded the Giulio Milazzo Prize 2013 of BES; he delivered his honorary lecture during the opening ceremony.

The COST TD1104 track of sessions at the BES Symposium was arranged in seven sessions divided into the following sessions:

(1) Medical Applications, chaired by Magorzata Kotulska and Richard Heller; keynote lectures were given by R. Cadossi and L.M. Mir; (2) DNA Electrotransfer, chaired by Maja Čemažar and Veronique Preat; keynote lecture by G. Sersa; (3) Food and Environment, chaired by Giovanna Ferrari and Wolfgang Frey; keynote lecture by J. Raso; (4) Nanosecond Pulses, chaired by P. Tom Vernier, Lluis M. Mir and Andrej Pakhomov, keynote lecture by Ken-ichi Yano; (5) Nanotechnology, chaired by Justin Teissie, keynote lecture by Bruno Le Pioufle; (6) In Silico Approaches, chaired by Guillermo Marshall, keynote lecture by Mounir Tarek; and (7) Mechanisms and Models, chaired by Marie-Pierre Rols and James C. Weaver.

The sessions on “Electroporation and Biomedical Applications” were closed with a discussion panel on “Future Directions of Electroporation-based Approaches”.

Here Damijan Miklavcic started to specify the intentions and goals of the field; how it moves forward, identifies gaps, hurdles, challenges and shares experiences; finally coming up with a list of actions and research topics that need to be put on the agenda for next projects and grant applications. Secondly, Richard Heller described the width of electroporation-based technologies and treatments, including:

(1) Electrotransfer of bioactive agents (such as drugs and gene DNA, of si-RNA, proteins);
(2) Irreversible electroporation (ablation, pasteurization, disinfection);
(3) Nanosecond pulsed fields (ablation, cell manipulations);
(4) Application in agriculture (e.g. food processing) and in medicine (cancer, wound healing, cardiovascular treatments).

Finally, Ruggero Cadossi gave a summary of ECT progress and development of new medical indications. Current use and future perspectives in the food industry were presented by S. Toepfl.

It is recalled that the Special Issue “Bio-Electroporation 2013” mainly contains articles on topics presented at this COST TD1104 symposium. The content of the special issue is highly illustrative of the present research on the effects of pulsed electric fields on biomembranes.

In summary, the overall impression of the presentations of the symposium culminated in the conclusion that scientifically the very fundamental thermodynamics and kinetics of electroporation phenomena appear well covered in terms of structural changes induced in the membranes (coupled to intracellular cytoskeletal filaments) by external electric fields. The experimental quantities can be quantified in terms of fractional changes and expressed as field-dependent distribution constants between porous/conducting and non-porous/nonconducting membrane parts. However, many physical details such as the particular lipid organization responsible for the different surface tensions, lipid phase organization and interaction of the membrane components with interfacial water molecules underlying membrane bending rigidity or line tension of a pore, are still not being fully understood in chemical structural terms. Problem solving, in particular for tissue cell organizations, may be performed by using in silico modeling. Certainly, requests to more “back to the bench” investigations are always instrumental for further progress.

It should be recognized that during the last years, many new practical applications of the various electroporation phenomena have emerged. In particular, electrochemotherapy has become a clinical routine procedure as well as clinical gene electrotransfer (DNA vaccines) including electrotransfer of so-called small and large RNAs. Large scale electroporation applying pulsed electric fields (PEF) continues to progress in food and environmental industries, for instance, cold pasteurization (to preserve the flavor) or the enhanced extraction of high value bio-products (such as polyphenols).

The editors of this special issue are grateful to all the reviewers for their careful and strict evaluation of the manuscripts for the benefit of maintaining the high ranking standard of the journal. We hope that the Special Issue “Bio-Electroporation 2013” will motivate the electroporation research to continue providing fruitful progress, generating new ideas, foster future scientific research and enabling easier transfer of knowledge to the industry for the benefit of all of us (including the creation of new jobs).

Keywords: electroporation   

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