Cold atmospheric plasma: A promising complementary therapy for squamous head and neck cancer

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Head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) is the 7th most common cancer worldwide. Despite the development of new therapeutic agents such as monoclonal antibodies, prognosis did not change for the last decades. Cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) presents the most promising new technology in cancer treatment. In this study the efficacy of a surface micro discharging (SMD) plasma device against two head and neck cancer cell lines was proved. Effects on the cell viability, DNA fragmentation and apoptosis induction were evaluated with the MTT assay, alkaline microgel electrophoresis (comet assay) and Annexin-V/PI staining. MTT assay revealed that the CAP treatment markedly decreases the cell viability for all tested treatment times (30, 60, 90, 120 and 180 s). IC 50 was reached within maximal 120 seconds of CAP treatment. Comet assay analysis showed a dose dependent high DNA fragmentation being one of the key players in anti-cancer activity of CAP. Annexin-V/PI staining revealed induction of apoptosis in CAP treated HNSCC cell lines but no significant dose dependency was seen. Thus, we confirmed that SMD Plasma technology is definitely a promising new approach on cancer treatment.




Welz, C., Emmert, S., Canis, M., Becker, S., Baumeister, P., Shimizu, T., … Zimmermann, J. L. (2015). Cold atmospheric plasma: A promising complementary therapy for squamous head and neck cancer. PLoS ONE, 10(11).

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