Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is used clinically as a focal therapy to ablate solid tumors. A critical disadvantage of IRE as a monotherapy for cancer is the inability of ablating large tumors, because the electric field strength required is often too high to be safe. Previous reports indicate that cells exposed to certain cationic small molecules and surfactants are more vulnerable to IRE at lower electric field strengths. However, low-molecular-weight IRE sensitizers may suffer from suboptimal bioavailability due to poor stability and a lack of control over spatiotemporal accumulation in the tumor tissue. Here, we show that a synthetic membranolytic polymer, poly(6-aminohexyl methacrylate) (PAHM), synergizes with IRE to achieve enhanced cancer cell killing. The enhanced efficacy of the combination therapy is attributed to PAHM-mediated sensitization of cancer cells to IRE and to the direct cell killing by PAHM through membrane lysis. We further demonstrate sustained release of PAHM from embolic beads over 1 week in physiological medium. Taken together, combining IRE and a synthetic macromolecular sensitizer with intrinsic membranolytic activity and sustained bioavailability may present new therapeutic opportunities for a wide range of solid tumors.

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