The promise of cancer therapies gives hope to many people those who suffer with the disease. In the latest cancer treatment news, a team of engineers, physicists, neurosurgeons, biologists & immunologists from the UK, Poland & Sweden have invented a new form of photoimmune therapy (in other words, light-based) that targets & destroys cancerous tumors in patients with impressive effectiveness, according to a report by The Guardian published on Friday.
The world’s 5th major cancer treatment after surgery
The new therapy is considered the 5th largest cancer treatment in the world after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy & immunotherapy. And, best of all, the basic concept is pretty simple.
Light-activated therapy makes cancer cells glow in the dark, helping surgeons identify tumors and effectively remove them. The researchers performed a world-first trial in mice with glioblastoma.
They found that the new treatment lightened even the tiniest cancer cells, removing any that remained after the surgery. But the positive effects don’t stop there. The treatment triggers an immune response that can allow the immune system to defend itself against the cancer coming back.
Lead researcher, Gabriela Kramer-Marek, told The Guardian: “Brain cancers such as glioblastoma can be difficult to treat and, unfortunately, there are too few treatment options for patients. “Surgery is difficult because of the location of the tumours, and so new methods to see tumor cells need to be removed during surgery and to treat any remaining cancer cells after, that can be very helpful.”
Kramer-Marek adds in the report: “Our study demonstrates that a novel photoimmuno therapy treatment uses a combination of fluorescent marker, affibody protein, and near-infrared light can both identify and treat residual glioblastoma cells in mice. “In the future, we hope this approach can be used to treat human glioblastoma potentially other cancers, too.”
A multidisciplinary effort
This groundbreaking research was heavily funded by Cancer Research UK Convergence Science Centre at ICR & Imperial College London.
“Multidisciplinary work is key to finding innovative solutions to address challenges we face in cancer research, diagnosis & treatment – and this study is a great example,” said Professor Axel Behrens. ICR-based cancer stem cell team leader and scientific director of the UK Cancer Research Convergence Science Centre.
“This study demonstrates a novel approach to identifying & treating glioblastoma cells in the brain by using light to turn an immunosuppressive environment into an immuno-vulnerable one. and has exciting potential as a therapy against this aggressive type of brain-tumor,” added Behrens. report.
Photoimmuno therapies are increasingly promising set of treatment options that can help people live longer & healthier lives after treatment, adds Charles Evans, head of research information manager at Cancer Research U.K. He further notes that the new procedure needs to overcome barriers before it is widely accepted, but also emphasizes that he was “excited to see how this research will evolve.”