A new light may literally be shining on the search for more effective cancer treatment. Scientists are making progress on the creation of cancer drugs that are light-activated and have fewer debilitating side effects.
Fighting the Toxic Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Most of today’s cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy receive cisplatin or another platinum-based compound. These treatments date back more than 50 years, and they attack both healthy and diseased cells, which results in toxic side effects.
A team from the Warwick Monash Alliance, which is an intercontinental collaboration between two universities in the UK and Australia, tested a potential platinum-based chemotherapy drug that is activated by direct light. The inorganic-metal compound has the ability to specifically target and attack cancer cells.
The treatment is completely inert in darkness. Once it’s inserted into a cancerous area, direct light triggers a reaction that causes the compound to degrade into active platinum and release ligand molecules on the diseased cells.
Harnessing the Power of Photoactivation
Peter Sadler, professor of chemistry at the University of Warwick, stated that this discovery has great potential for the development of targeted cancer treatment. Since the light can be focused directly on the tumor, the drug spares healthy tissue and kills only cancer cells.
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