Researchers use laser-activated drug delivery to fight cancer
Scientists have developed a new treatment called “light-activated drug delivery,” which they said can fight cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.
The new treatment, created by a team of scientists from both French research centers and universities in the U.S., involves a new type of nanoparticle—a microscopic particle of matter that usually measures less than 100 nanometers. The method works by inserting chemotherapy drugs inside the nanoparticles, which can be activated by tissue-penetrating light. The researchers tested their method on lab-cultured human breast cancer cells, and because they were able to follow the nanoparticles’ progress throughout the body using molecular imaging techniques, they could trigger the drug release when the nanoparticles were at the appropriate location.
The study’s findings, published in the journal SMALL, suggest that the light-activated drug delivery treatment may increase a drug’s cancer-killing power, as well as reduce side effects of typical cancer treatments, since many therapies damage healthy tissue cells during the process of killing cancer cells. Currently, the tissue-penetrating light trigger works only at a small range, which means that the treatment currently is limited to breast, colon, ovarian and stomach tumors, which are all relatively close to the skin’s surface.