Researchers in the US have revealed that light could be a “promising” tool in the fight against cancer.
They described how a drug could be created which sticks to tumours, but is then only activated when hit by specific waves of light.
In this study, researchers at the National Cancer Institute, Maryland, used an antibody, which targets proteins on the surface of cancerous cells.
They then attached a chemical, IR700, to the antibody. IR700 is activated when it is hit by near infrared light. This wavelength of light can penetrate several centimetres into the skin.
To test the antibody-chemical combination, researchers implanted tumours, squamous cell carcinoma, into the backs of mice. They were given the drug and exposed to near infrared light.
“Tumour volume was significantly reduced compared to untreated control mice and survival was significantly prolonged. This selective killing minimises damage to normal cells,” the BBC quoted the researchers as saying.
The authors said the combination was “a promising therapeutic and diagnostic agent for the treatment of cancer”.
“Although we observed no toxicity in our experiments, clinical translation of this method will require formal toxicity studies,” they added.
The study has been published in Nature Medicine.