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Queen’s injects new hope for skin cancer patients

Queen’s University scientists have hit upon a revolutionary way to deliver agents for the treatment of skin cancer.

Pharmacy student Desmond Morrow working alongside Dr Paul McCarron and Dr Ryan Donnelly from the Queen’s Medical Biology Centre have demonstrated that a novel needle free jet injection device may be a potential way of eradicating ‘difficult to treat’ skin tumours.

The breakthrough at Queen’s could benefit the growing numbers of skin cancer patients being treated with a technique called photodynamic therapy (PDT). This is where a light sensitive drug in the form of a cream is rubbed on the area affected by the cancer and a laser activates a component in the cream to destroy cancerous cells.

Desmond Morrow pointed out the importance of his findings saying: “Photodynamic therapy is a relatively new form of skin cancer treatment which results in tumour death, however, sometimes its success in individual patients is limited by the poor penetration of the active agent into the tumour. Our research shows that a new way of administering the drug can improve the amount that crosses the skin barrier and gets to the required site.”

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Looking at the immediate benefit with this new form of treatment both Dr Mc Carron and Dr Donnelly commented: “In Northern Ireland, basal cell carcinoma (BBC) is a prevalent form of skin cancer. Conventional treatments for BCC include surgical excision and radiotherapy, which demonstrate acceptable clearance rates. However, both techniques are unsuitable for large or multiple lesions and can lead to poor cosmetic outcomes, such as scarring, especially on visible regions, like the face and upper torso.”

They continued: “Photodynamic therapy has been shown to eradicate certain superficial skin lesions with remarkable selectivity, giving a more satisfactory clinical outcome.”

Lisa Mitchell | alfa
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