Able to be activated by light, microwave, X-ray or ultrasound, the molecule promises to revolutionize the fight against cancer. Both U.S. and international patents were issued to the University of Texas at Arlington for developing the particle.
“This new nanoparticle material has many properties that improve upon traditional photodynamic cancer therapies, where light is used to activate a particle that kills cancer cells”, said UTA physics professor and inventor Wei Chen.
The discovery opens the door for a whole new generation of effective and affordable cancer drugs. Because of how better targeted the approach can be, patients would have significantly fewer side effects and a reduced recovery time. Designed with a copper-cysteamine or Cu-Cy structure, the molecule is “much less toxic and can selectively kill cancer cells without harming healthy tissue”.
Applicable to a multiple cancers, “the material provides an excellent solution to the issue of how to penetrate cancer tumors found at different levels in the body – light is effective for skin cancers and cancers near the skin surface, microwaves for cancers between 5-7 centimeters below skin level, X-rays for deeper cancers and ultrasound for cancers between 15-25 centimeters below the skin surface”.
With a low cost and increased ease of manufacture, the particles are ideal for mass production, making it a frontrunner to become standard cancer treatment.
The decreased sensitivity to light makes it possible to circumvent problems with earlier photodynamic therapies. Additionally, the procedure can be employed as an imaging system, not only as a treating method.
Alex Weiss, chair of UTA’s Physics Department, congratulated Chen and noted that “Dr. Chen’s research into nanoparticle activation has led to important discoveries that could potentially transform cancer treatment,