Efficient cancer treatments are constantly being developed and different approaches seem to be as varied as the multiple types of cancer they are meant to deal with. While some traditional methods are quite extensive in time and consume the body’s already exhausted resources, new ones that are being developed are very close to the realm of the most unexpectedly efficient results with very few side-effects or even none. When talking about quick fixes for cancer, the conclusions are not always very encouraging as even surgical removal of a tumor, especially in malignant cases, is often associated with a course of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. This was the situation until now because, incredible as it may seem, a non-invasive way to kill off a tumor within hours is currently being studied and tested.
“This interaction between the compound and the beam causes cancer cells to become very acidic from the inside, a state which eventually leads them to “committing suicide”.”
The newly patented method to destroy cancer cells has been developed by Matthew Gdovin, associate professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Department of Biology. His method implies injecting a chemical compound, nitrobenzaldehyde, which spreads into the tumor, and aiming a beam of ultraviolet light at the targeted region. This interaction between the compound and the beam causes cancer cells to become very acidic from the inside, a state which eventually leads them to “committing suicide”.
“Even though there are many different types of cancers, the one thing they have in common is their susceptibility to this induced cell suicide.” (Matthew Gdovin, press release UTSA Today)
“In the course of two hours, an estimated 90% of the cancerous cells are expected to die, according to the study.”
Triple negative breast cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of this disease, occurring in 10-20% of the 1.4 million breast cancer cases diagnosed annually worldwide, being often difficult to treat. The difficulty resides in its triple negative characteristic, meaning that the tumor’s growth is not supported by the hormones estrogen or progesterone, nor by an exceeding number of HER2* (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) receptors, as it usually is in breast cancer cases. This makes the patient unresponsive to hormonal therapy or treatments which target the HER2 receptors.
This type of treatment has been tested on triple negative breast cancer tumors in mice and has proved its efficiency in stopping the tumor’s growth and doubling chances of survival after just one session. In the course of two hours, an estimated 90% of the cancerous cells are expected to die, according to the study.
“Professor Gdovin’s approach, in comparison to traditional chemotherapy sessions that affect all the cells in the body and make patients feel sick, is targeted and designed to attack the cancerous cells without coursing through the whole body.”
Professor Gdovin’s approach, in comparison to traditional chemotherapy sessions that affect all the cells in the body and make patients feel sick, is targeted and designed to attack the cancerous cells without coursing through the whole body. A next phase of the project, which is currently under work, is to design an injectable nanoparticle that has the ability to target cancer cells which have metastasized (spread to other organs or parts of the body). The nanoparticle would be activated with the help of a wavelength of light that could penetrate the skin, flesh and bone tissue without doing any harm.
The treatment would be most helpful in cancer patients with tumors localized in difficult to access or delicate parts of the body such as the brain stem, spine or aorta – which is the largest artery in the body – and even more for children with cancer, who are exposed to radiation therapy and are at great risk of developing mutations as they age.
“There are so many types of cancer for which the prognosis is very poor. We’re thinking outside the box and finding a way to do what for many people is simply impossible.” (Matthew Gdovin, USTA Today)
* a gene that can be responsible for developing breast cancer
Written by R.F.I
Nuha Buchanan Kadri et al, Photodynamic acidification therapy to reduce triple negative breast cancer growth in vivo, Journal of Clinical Oncology, vol 34, May 2016
http://meeting.ascopubs.org/cgi/content/abstract/34/15_suppl/e12574 ; http://www.utsa.edu/today/2016/02/cancertherapy.html ; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627214423.htm ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6YmeppirqQ ; http://www.mirror.co.uk/science/new-cancer-treatment-can-kill-8341452 ; http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/trip_neg http://annonc.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/suppl_6/vi7.long