Science Scope

How light therapy can cure cancer

How light therapy can cure cancer

Posting in Cancer

Researchers discovered that light can be a tool to treat cancer, without damaging surrounding tissue and may soon be used for more specific treatment.

Researchers have demonstrated that it's possible to use a non-invasive light technology to kill cancer in mice, which could lead to less toxic treatments for humans.

Scientists at National Cancer Institute in Maryland used an antibody to target the surface of a protein over-expressed in cancer cells. Then using a chemical called IR700, the researchers shined an infrared light on the area to activate the heat-sensitive dye.

"Although more testing will be needed, we believe this PIT method has the potential to replace some surgical, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments," Hisataka Kobayashi at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research said in a statement.

In this case, adding the florescence allowed the scientists to watch the light therapy in action. By attaching the chemical to cancer antibodies that are over-expressed in some breast, lung, and prostate cancers, the light therapy penetrated beneath the surface and caused the cancer cells to die.

In the experiment, the researchers looked at how the therapy did in mice with surgically implanted tumors. Using light therapy, along with chemical therapy, the researchers found that after a single dose of the treatment, the tumors shrunk.

The BBC reported that mice treated with light therapy live longer than the mice who didn't receive treatment.

Scientists think it could work in treating breast, lung, and prostate tumors, as well as cancer cells in the blood. While the study showed promising results in mice, it will have to show stunning results in humans.

The paper was published by Nature Medicine.

via National Cancer Institute and The BBC

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure