New Chemotherapy Discovery Uses Light to Increase Effectiveness

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Chemotherapy and lightGerman researchers may have found a solution to reducing and even eliminating the harmful side effects patients have to deal with when undergoing traditional chemotherapy.

The research, published in the journal Cell and co-authored by Professor Dirk Trauner and Dr. Oliver Thorn-Seshold from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat in Munich, revealed a way for optically controlling microtubule inhibitor drugs.

Microtubules are a component of the cytoskeleton, which is the matrix that supports cell shape and function. They also play a significant role in the migration and proliferation of cells.

In this study, the researchers replaced a specific fixed structural element with a “hinge” that swings open or shut when exposed to blue light. Exposing cancer cells to blue light allows them to be easily identifiable and treated by compounds called “photstatins.”

Dr. Trauner notes that the advantage to this treatment is that the “compounds retain the powerful anticancer effects of existing microtubule inhibitors but add the bonus of tissue-specific localization.”

Traditional chemotherapy involves administering drugs in low doses that do not target specific cancer cells, but rather affect all cells in the body. This can lead to harmful and dangerous side effects, including heart and nerve damage. The lack of targeted cell treatment also suggests the treatment is not as effective as it could potentially be if cancer cells alone were targeted.

Dr. Thorn-Seshold says, “the new compounds will be able to be used in medicine at dosages that are truly therapeutic in tumors, thus achieving a much more effective therapy than currently possible.”

While further research is needed, the study authors believe this method of targeting specific cells using light is truly therapeutic and could be an effective cancer treatment that eliminates the harmful and unwanted side effects of chemotherapy.

Source for Today’s Article:
Lam, P., “New chemotherapy light technique discovered,” Medical News Today web site, July 13, 2015;


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Adrian has been working in the information publishing world since 1997. But when it comes to health information, he’s a self-admitted late bloomer. A couch potato since pre-school, Adrian was raised on TV, video games and a lifestyle that led to childhood obesity that followed him well into adulthood. But when he hit his forties, he decided enough was enough. He had a family to take care of and his days of overeating, under-exercising and inactivity were going to lead... Read Full Bio »