Photodynamic therapy breakthrough in cancer treatment
Researchers from the Peninsula Medical School in Cornwall, UK, have modified a photodynamic therapy (PDT) treatment that combines a topically applied cream with visible light to destroy cancer cells while leaving surrounding tissue unharmed.
The cream is applied directly to skin cancers and precancers, which then naturally produces a photosensitive drug. A special red light is then shone on the tumour a few hours later, to activate this light sensitive compound. This results in cellular damage and the destruction of the tumour.
This technique results in reduced scarring and little or no damage to the surrounding healthy cells.
By adding the iron chelator CP94 to the cream, the research team have found that the effects of PDT are greatly improved and achieve greater reductions in tumour depth in tumours currently too thick to be treated easily by the nonenhanced form of this treatment.
This is the first time in the world that PDT trials of this modified PDT treatment have been carried out involving humans. Trials involving patients have taken place at clinics at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust in Truro.
PDT is achieving success in the treatment of actinic keratoses (lesions that can develop after years of exposure to UV light); Bowen's disease (the growth of abnormal calls that can turn into skin cancer, and that is partly due to long-term exposure to the sun); and basal cell carcinoma (the most common form of skin cancer).
Dr Alison Curnow from the Peninsula Medical School in Cornwall, commented: "Through years of research we have been able to develop a modified PDT treatment enabling for the first time for thicker nodular basal cell carcinomas to be treated effectively with a single PDT treatment. This is important, as this is a very common form of skin cancer."