The Guardian reports:
Scientists have successfully developed a revolutionary cancer treatment that lights up and wipes out microscopic cancer cells, in a breakthrough that could enable surgeons to more effectively target and destroy the disease in patients.
A European team of engineers, physicists, neurosurgeons, biologists and immunologists from the UK, Poland and Sweden joined forces to design the new form of photoimmunotherapy. Experts believe it is destined to become the world’s fifth major cancer treatment after surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy. The light-activated therapy forces cancer cells to glow in the dark, helping surgeons remove more of the tumours compared with existing techniques — and then kills off remaining cells within minutes once the surgery is complete. In a world-first trial in mice with glioblastoma, one of the most common and aggressive types of brain cancer, scans revealed the novel treatment lit up even the tiniest cancer cells to help surgeons remove them — and then wiped out those left over. Trials of the new form of photoimmunotherapy, led by the Institute of Cancer Research, London, also showed the treatment triggered an immune response that could prime the immune system to target cancer cells in future, suggesting it could prevent glioblastoma coming back after surgery….
The therapy combines a special fluorescent dye with a cancer-targeting compound. In the trial in mice, the combination was shown to dramatically improve the visibility of cancer cells during surgery and, when later activated by near-infrared light, to trigger an anti-tumour effect.