Light therapy leads to revolutionary new cancer treatment

By illuminating and destroying tiny cancer cells, scientists have succeeded in developing a revolutionary cancer therapy , a breakthrough that allows surgeons to more effectively target and destroy a patient’s condition. A European team of engineers, physicists, neurosurgeons, biologists and immunologists from the UK, Poland and Sweden has joined forces to design the new photoimmunotherapy. Experts believe it is destined to become the fifth most popular cancer treatment in the world after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. Light-activated therapy, which forces cancer cells to glow in the dark, helps surgeons remove more of the tumor than existing techniques — and then kills the remaining cells within minutes of surgery. In the world’s first trial in mice with gliomas, one of the most common and aggressive types of brain cancer, scans show new treatments can light up even the smallest cancer cells, helping Surgeons remove them — and then destroy the remaining cancer cells. Trials of the new photoimmunotherapy led by the Institute of Cancer Research in London have also shown that the therapy triggers an immune response that could in the future allow the immune system to target cancer cells, suggesting it could prevent gliomas from recurring after surgery. The therapy combines a special fluorescent dye with a cancer-targeting compound. In mouse trials, the combination was shown to significantly improve the visibility of cancer cells during surgery, and also trigger an anti-tumor response when activated later by near-infrared light.

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