Light-Activated “Photoimmunotherapy” Kills Brain Cancer, Reduces Relapse

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research in London have developed a new light-activated “Photoimmunotherapy” that could help treat brain cancer.

The key is a compound that glows under light to guide surgeons to the tumor, while near-infrared light activates a cancer-killing mechanism.

The new study builds on a common technique called Fluorescence Guided Surgery, which involves introducing a fluorescent agent to the body which glows under exposure to light.

For the new study, the researchers gave the technique an extra ability – killing the cancer as well.

They added a new molecule that binds to a protein called EGFR, which is often mutated in cases of the brain cancer glioblastoma.

“Our study shows that a novel photoimmunotherapy treatment using a combination of a fluorescent marker, ‘affibody’ protein and near-infrared light can both identify and treat leftover glioblastoma cells in mice,” said Dr. Gabriela Kramer-Marek, lead author of the study.

The team says the technique could also eventually be used to treat other types of cancer.