New therapy for skin cancer

Targeted photodynamic therapy (PDT) can completely eradicate some models of skin cancer, according to research conducted by the University of Hull and ETH Zurich. PDT is a relatively new treatment for some forms of cancer. A chemical that makes cells sensitive to light is administered and then areas of cancer are targeted with lasers that cause the cells to die off.

The findings, which are published in the current issue of the British Journal of Cancer, show how the scientists linked light sensitive molecules with antibodies to target tumour blood vessels. When treated with light, the molecules create particles known as reactive oxygen species, which in high numbers cause irreversible damage to cells. This led the scientists to target the tumour blood vessels so starving the tumour of oxygen and nutrients. The tumour disappeared completely with no regrowth within the following 100 days. 

This form of treatment currently appears more effective in smaller doses, improves outcomes and reduces potential side effects to patients. In the future it is possible that this technique could potentially replace more invasive forms of treatment such as surgery and radiotherapy

Special proteins in the blood that are produced in response to a specific antigen and play a key role in immunity and allergy. Full medical glossary
A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of all living organisms. Full medical glossary
Abbreviation for Eustachian tube. Full medical glossary
The treatment of disease using radiation. Full medical glossary
An abnormal swelling. Full medical glossary