“Photodynamic therapy is a cancer treatment method that uses a combination of special preparations — photosensitizers and light with waves of a certain length. Photosensitizers tend to accumulate in the tumor and when exposed to light with a certain wavelength contribute to the formation of a special form of oxygen, which destroys cancer cells”, explained Mikhail Grin Sc.D. in Chemistry, Head of the Department of Chemistry and Bioactive Compounds, MIREA.
A team of researchers comprised of members from the National University of Science and Technology “MISIS”, the Moscow Technological University (MIREA) and the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University managed to demonstrate the oncological efficacy of this approach. Laboratory tests showed tumor inhibition in approximately 70% of the animal models treated with the novel therapy.
The procedure can help destroy cancer cells through additional mechanisms. “First, photosensitizers can damage the blood vessels in the tumor, thus disrupting the flow of nutrients to it. Second, they can activate the immune system, causing it to attack cancer cells”, noted Dr. Grin.
The path of selective elimination of malignant cells with an active ingredient that only targets the tumor and not the whole body represents the future of cancer treatments. The approach is more precise and has the added benefit of exposing patients to lower levels of toxicity. Overall it provides superior results and offers a higher quality of life.
By combining a magnetic nanoparticle delivery system with a molecule-photosensitizer, the team was able to kill cancer cells using light. This hybrid approach uses an MRI to track the movement of molecules-“killers” within the bloodstream and the level of their accumulation inside the tissues in real time.
Maksim Abakumov, Head of NUST MISIS Laboratory ‘Biomedical Nanomaterials’ and co-author of the study related that “the optimal time of exposure to light can be determined by the intensity of the signal on the MRI image and the data obtained after the introduction of the hybrid ‘magnetite + photosensitizer”. This was determined to be between 60 and 100 minutes.
With in-vivo tests already showing good intermediate results, the team is hoping to get the procedure available to cancer patients as soon as possible.
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