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Ion channel drugs as electroceuticals for reprogramming cancer: exploiting bioelectric controls of cell and tissue function

A talk by Michael Levin
Tufts University, Medford, USA.

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About this talk

Cancer can be seen as a departure of cells from the instructive field of information that normally orchestrates cell behavior toward normal tissue and organ morphogenesis. Our group focuses on a unique set of biophysical signals that coordinate cells into large-scale anatomical order: bioelectrical communication. All cells, not just neurons, form electrical networks in the body that underlie embryogenesis, regeneration, and remodeling. In this talk, I will introduce the emerging field of molecular developmental bioelectricity, and describe the tools and data that have emerged showing how endogenous bioelectrical signaling can be manipulated for regenerative medicine. We have shown in animal models that cancer can be non-invasively detected by voltage-sensing fluorescent dyes. Moreover, a metastatic melanoma phenotype can be induced by derangement of bioelectric states in otherwise normal animals, while specific ion channel modulation suppresses tumorigenesis despite strong oncogenic mutations. These data suggest the usage of existing ion channel drugs as electroceuticals in cancer medicine.

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