A new, light-based treatment for cancer has been developed by scientists, having the potential to become the fifth acknowledged treatment after surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy. The treatment was discovered and tested by a multidisciplinary team of researchers and professionals from various fields, such as neurosurgery, physics, engineering, biology and immunology.
According to The Guardian, the treatment makes the tiniest cancer cells glow in the dark, making them more visible, and therefore, easier for doctors to see and remove. Furthermore, after the surgery, the remaining cancer cells are destroyed in a matter of minutes by the newfound therapy.
The newly discovered form of photoimmunotherapy was tested on mice suffering from glioblastoma, a very aggressive type of malignant brain tumor. The use of light therapy highlighted the cancer cells, which were removed by the surgeons, while the ones that remained were destroyed. Other trials were also carried out by the Institute of Cancer Research in London, where it was discovered that the treatment also prepared the immune system for fighting future cancerous cells. This could mean that photoimmunotherapy also has the potential to stop glioblastoma from reoccurring.
Interviewed by The Guardian, the lead researcher of the study, Dr. Gabriela Kramer (pictured above), declared that “brain cancers like glioblastoma can be hard to treat and, sadly, there are too few treatment options for patients. Surgery is challenging due to the location of the tumours, and so new ways to see tumour cells to be removed during surgery, and to treat residual cancer cells that remain afterwards, could be of great benefit.”
The new and revolutionary treatment not only helps identify cancer cells, but also helps destroy them post-surgery. The research team is also hopeful regarding the use of photoimmunotherapy for treating other forms of cancer as well. The perspective is all the more encouraging, as trials have been performed on the most aggressive forms of cancer, with successful results. Specialists believe that the therapy has the potential to replace other forms of treatment which are efficient for battling cancer, but which cause long-time damage to other parts of the body.
Photo source: The Guardian. Photograph: John Angerson