TTF therapy is a locally or regionally delivered treatment that uses electric fields within the human body that disrupt the rapid cell division exhibited by cancer cells. TTF therapy was developed to provide physicians and patients with a fourth treatment option for cancer in addition to surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Novocure developed TTF therapy from Prof. Yoram Palti’s novel concept that a cell’s physical properties can serve as targets for an anti-cancer therapy. Specifically, TTF therapy takes advantage of the special characteristics, geometrical shape, and rate of dividing cancer cells, all of which make them susceptible to the effects of alternating electric fields by altering the tumor cell polarity. The frequency used for a particular treatment is specific to the cell type being treated. TTFields have been shown to disrupt mitotic spindle microtubule assembly and to lead to dielectrophoretic dislocation of intracellular macromolecules and organelles during cytokinesis. These processes lead to physical disruption of the cell membrane and to programmed cell death (apoptosis). The above mechanisms of action are consistent with the extensive research regarding the effects of TTF therapy. These results demonstrate both disruption of cancer cell division up to complete cessation of the process, as well as complete destruction of the dividing cancer cells.
The video on this page describes the mechanism of action by which TTF therapy arrests the proliferation of tumor cells and destroys them, and shows the effect of TTF therapy on cancer cells during an in vitro experiment.
TTF therapy has several important aspects that distinguish it from existing cancer treatment methods.
TTF therapy is tuned to affect only one cell type at a time. TTF therapy has not been shown to affect cells that are not undergoing division.
TTF therapy is not expected to affect the normal functions of bone marrow in creating red and white blood cells, since the bone marrow is naturally shielded from the fields.
TTF therapy is delivered locally through a physical, non-chemical pathway. This allows TTF therapy to treat brain tumors, whereas other mitotic inhibitor treatments such as taxanes and vinca alkaloids have poor diffusion across the blood-brain barrier and are rarely used to treat brain tumors.
There is no evidence of cumulative damage to healthy tissues in the body when exposed to TTF therapy. Since the fields alternate so rapidly, they have no effect on normal quiescent cells nor do they stimulate nerves and muscles.
Taken together, these properties will potentially allow patients to receive TTF treatment for as long as necessary with minimal side effects while maintaining a high quality of life.