New tech could take light-based cancer treatment deep inside the body
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an effective treatment for easily accessible tumors such as oral and skin cancer.
But the procedure, which uses lasers to activate special drugs called photosensitizing agents, isn’t adept at fighting cancer deep inside the body.
Thankfully, that’s changing due to new technology that could bring PDT into areas of the body which were previously inaccessible. Described May 11 in the journal Nature Photonics, the approach involves using near-infrared beams of light that, upon penetrating deep into the body, are converted into visible light that activates the drug and destroys the tumor.
“We expect this will vastly expand the applications for an effective cancer phototherapy that’s already in use,” said co-author Tymish Ohulchanskyy, PhD, University at Buffalo research associate professor and deputy director for photomedicine at the university’s Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB). Doctors have used PDT to treat cancer for decades.
Cancer cells absorb the drug, which is delivered to the tumor via the bloodstream or locally. Visible light is then applied to the site, which causes the drug to react with oxygen and create a burst of free radicals that kill the tumor. Unfortunately, visible light does not penetrate tissue well. Conversely, near-infrared light penetrates tissue well but doesn’t activate the drugs efficiently.
To solve this problem, some researchers are developing drugs that absorb near-infrared light. This method is limited, however, because stable and efficient near-infrared absorbing photosenzitizers are notoriously difficult to synthesize. The UB-led team took a different approach, which uses the tumor’s natural environment to tune the light into the necessary wavelengths.
For example, the near-infrared laser beam interacts with the natural protein collagen, which is found in connective tissues. The interaction changes the near-infrared light to visible light, a process known as second harmonic generation.
Likewise, natural proteins and lipids within the cells interact with near-infrared laser light and change it to visible light through another process called four-wave mixing. Thus, visible light can be generated in tumors deep inside the body, and it can be absorbed by the drug.
This activates the drug, which then destroys the tumor. The procedure has numerous advantages, said the study’s leader, Paras Prasad, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, and medicine at UB, and the ILPB’s executive director.
“There are no long-term side effects for PDT, it’s less invasive than surgery, and we can very precisely target cancer cells,” he said. “With our approach, PDT is enriched to provide another tool that doctors can use to alleviate the pain of millions of people suffering from cancer.”
UB has applied for a patent to protect the team’s discovery, and the university's Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (UB STOR) is discussing potential license agreements with companies interested in commercializing it.
The research is a collaboration between ILPB, Shenzhen University in China and Korea University in Korea, with which Prasad is affiliated. It was supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Air Force of Scientific Research.
Other co-authors are Aliaksandr Kachynski, Artem Pliss, Andrey Kuzmin and Alexander Baev, all PhDs and researchers within ILPB, and Junle Qu, PhD, Shenzhen University.
Media Contact Information
Media Relations Manager, Engineering, Libraries, Sustainability
Cory Nealon | Eurek Alert!
Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University
Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences