Researchers Call Light “Promising” in Fight Against CancerLight has been shown to be effective in several other treatment methods, so this new revelation will not surprise some.A new study, published in Nature Medicine, demonstrated how a drug could be created which sticks to tumors, but is then only turned on when specific waves of light hit.
What this means is that a treatment can be highly targeted without damaging the surrounding tissue. A cancer charity noted that the treatment showed some real promise.
Presently, the treatments available for cancer patients fall into three main categories: aggressively attacking the cancer with radiation, surgically removing a tumor, or using drugs to destroy the cancer cells. All of these treatments have side effects, some of them more severe than others, and scientists are trying to map out more accurate treatments with fewer risks to patients.
The Chemical: IR700In this study, researchers at the National Cancer Institute, Maryland, used an antibody which takes aim at proteins on the surface of cancer cells. The researchers then attached a chemical, IR700, to the antibody. This chemical is turned on when it comes in contact with near infrared light. This specific wavelength of light can go up to several centimeters under the skin.
The try out the antibody-chemical combination, scientists implanted tumors, squamous cell carcinoma, into the backs of mice. The mice were then administered the drug and exposed to near infrared light.
An official release from the study said: “Tumor volume was significantly reduced... compared to untreated control mice and survival was significantly prolonged.”
"This selective killing minimizes damage to normal cells."
The scientists call the combination “a promising therapeutic and diagnostic agent for the treatment of cancer”.
"Although we observed no toxicity in our experiments, clinical translation of this method will require formal toxicity studies," the researchers added.
Managing ExpectationsDr. Laura McCallum, Cancer Research UK’s science communications officer, referred to the research as promising. "Using antibodies or photodynamic therapy to specifically target cancer cells have both been successful for treating some cancers, so combining the two together is certainly an exciting plan.
Though, Dr. McCallum warns against getting hopes too high. "But it's important to remember that this work was done in mice, so it's much too early to tell if it will work in people with cancer.”
Further warnings against too much optimism must be mentioned. Many treatments and drugs meant to ward off or fight against cancer and other serious ailments have risen in the past.
The number of these “innovations” that were actually successfully in some significant manner is drastically lower than the number that have been introduced. That being said, we can hope that this new treatment shows promise. But it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a new miracle drug or treatment didn’t pan out as expected.
Researchers could be decades away from finding an actual “cure” for cancer, we can only hope that innovations such as these continue and provide hope and enthusiasm for others.