Forgot your password?



Back to login

Wireless switch to turn on light in cancer therapy
February 24, 2018, 1:14 pm
Share/Bookmark

A team of scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed a way to wirelessly deliver light into deep regions of the body to activate light-sensitive drugs for photodynamic therapy (PDT).

PDT is a treatment method that uses a light sensitive drug, called a photosensitizer, which is triggered by a specific wavelength of light, to produce a form of oxygen that kills nearby cells. This provides a precision approach to cancer therapy that overcomes many of the whole-body side effects of classical drugs such as chemotherapy. In addition to directly killing cancer cells, PDT shrinks or destroys tumors by damaging blood vessels in the tumor, preventing the cancer cells from receiving necessary nutrients. PDT may also activate the immune system to attack the tumor cells.

Currently PDT has been limited to the treatment of surface cancers. Traditional light sources such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or lasers may be used for surface tumors, such as skin cancer, but the low penetration of light through tissue limits the depth to less than a centimeters. Also, for the inner lining of some organs, such as the esophagus, an endoscope — a thin, lighted tube used to look at tissues inside the body — can be used to insert a fiber optic cable, but other regions cannot be easily accessed by this way. For organs such as the brain or liver, the organ must be exposed by surgery before PDT can be used.

The NUS team's novel approach of enabling PDT to be used for the inner organs of the body is achieved by inserting a tiny wireless device at the target site, thereby extending the spatial and temporal precision of PDT deep within the body. The miniaturized device, which weighs 30 mg and is 15 mm3 in size, can be easily implanted, and uses a wireless powering system for light delivery. Once the device has been implanted at the target site, a specialized radio-frequency system wirelessly powers the device and monitors the light-dosing rate.

This novel approach enables ongoing treatment to prevent reoccurrence of a cancer, without additional surgery. The application of the technology can also be extended to many other light-based therapies, such as photo-thermal therapy, that face the common problem of limited penetration depth. The researchers now hope to bring these capabilities mainstream in order to provide opportunities to ‘shine light’ on human diseases.

Share your views
CAPTCHA
 

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."

"Envy comes from wanting something that isn't yours. But grief comes from losing something you've already had."

Photo Gallery