Light-triggered nanoparticles show promise against metastatic cancer

Source: Washington University – January 24, 2018

A new anti-cancer strategy wields light as a precision weapon. Unlike traditional light therapy — which is limited to the skin and areas accessible with an endoscope — this technique can target and attack cancer cells that have spread deep inside the body, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Light emitted as part of traditional cancer-imaging techniques, to locate metastatic tumors, also can trigger light-sensitive drugs, according to the new study. In addition, the research shows that when such drugs are packaged into nanoparticles that target lit-up cancer cells, the light-sensitive drug produces toxic free radicals that kill the tumor cells. The researchers showed that the technique worked effectively in mice with multiple myeloma, a cancer of white blood cells, and aggressive metastatic breast cancer.

The study is published online in Nature Communications.

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