Tech&Innovation

Can a Light Kill Cancer Cells?

An anti-cancer medicine that uses light to destroy cancer cells has been developed by Korean researchers.

Kim Se-hoon, head of the Theragnosis Research Center at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), announced in early December that he succeeded in developing cancer-targeted phototherapy through a joint study with Seoul National University professor Lee Yoon-sik and Korea University professor Ahn Dong-joon. The developed treatment is characterized by the ability to inject photosensitive drugs only once and repeated phototherapy for a long period of time.

Phototherapy technology is a technology that injects a laser-responsive photoreceptor into the body and accumulates it in cancer tissues and then destroys cancer cells by firing light. However, the existing photosensitive sensitization system can only be used once, so it had to be re-injected every treatment. In addition, photosensitive drugs have been accumulated in the patient’s body for a certain period of time even after phototherapy, causing side effects if the patient is exposed to light such as sunlight or indoor lighting. As a result, patients had to undergo the pain of being injected every time they received phototherapy and being isolated in darkness for a certain period of time.

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[Photo provided by KIST]

In order to solve this problem, the research team of Kim Se-hoon, head of the center, developed a peptide-based photo-sensitive drug that activates phototherapy effects only within cancer tissues. As a result of injecting the developed photoreceptive drug into an experimental mouse, it was released continuously around the tumor for two to four weeks with a single injection. It also confirmed that normal cells are not destroyed and only cancer cells are removed after repeated phototherapy.

“Our phototherapy can be repeated for a long time by injecting only once around cancer, and caner cells can be completely removed without destroying normal cells,” said Kim Se-hoon, head of the KIST Center. “The treatment will be useful for photomedical treatment in the future as it is simple to formulate as a single component.”

The research was conducted as a major project of KIST with the support of the Ministry of Science and ICT. The research results were published in the latest issue of ACS Nano, an international journal of nanotechnology.

Source: https://www.kist.re.kr/kist_web/?sub_num=2935&state=view&idx=3630&ord=0 

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