Light dynamics for cancer treatment

May 3, 2012, CORDIS

Research is delving into refinement of a revolutionary cancer treatment, photodynamic therapy (PDT). Using light, reactive oxygen and photosensitisers linked to specially designed antibodies, scientists are on the threshold of a highly specific cancer therapy.

PDT is an ingenious treatment using a drug – a photosensitiser – that absorbs light of a certain wavelength thereby inducing production of reactive that in turn kills nearby cells. Specially designed photosensitisers are absorbed by all cells in the body but stay in cells longer. This means that reactive oxygen destroys cancer cells selectively when they are exposed to the appropriate light wavelength.

The therapy is suitable for the removal of superficial neoplastic tumours in areas like the head and neck as well as urogenital and gynaecological systems that are inoperable. As the wavelength of the light determines how far the light travels into the body, the technique in principle has huge potential in that only destroys tumour and not healthy cells.

An EU-funded project 'Immunophotodynamic therapy of cancer: concepts and applications' (Immuno PDT) aimed to further improve the efficacy of PDT by developing novel photosensitisers that absorb light in the infrared range where light penetration of tissues is maximal. Furthermore, the Immuno PDT team targeted tumour neo-vasculature to close tumour blood vessels thereby destroying many tumour cells dependent on blood supply.

Immuno PDT made substantial progress in the development of antibody-based photosensitiser conjugates made up of the photosensitiser bound to an antibody. The researchers synthesised photosensitive molecules that do not stick to unwanted cells and tissues. Novel human antibodies were also isolated for corresponding tumour- associated antigens.

Dependent on the antibody and photosensitiser efficiently joining together, Immuno PDT successfully investigated a new method of conjugation. Novel PDT agents have been extensively tested in vitro and in rat models. At close of the project, three of the new were being manufactured for potential clinical use and eight patent applications had been submitted.

Apart from the applications in therapy for otherwise inoperable tumours, there is considerable scope for other treatments under the umbrella of immunotherapy. These include biological treatments for cancers using the body's immune system to fight tumours.

Explore further: Light, chemistry, action -- a new technique to target skin cancers?

Related Stories

Light, chemistry, action -- a new technique to target skin cancers?

April 11, 2011
Targeted photodynamic therapy can completely eradicate some models of cancer, according to the latest research by UK and Swiss scientists, published in the current issue of the British Journal of Cancer.

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.