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Researchers develop phototherapeutic agent to treat pancreatic cancer
  • By Constance Williams
  • Published 2017.10.18 17:51
  • Updated 2017.10.18 17:51
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A research team led by Professors Choi Myung-gu and Park Jae-myung of the Catholic University Seoul St. Mary's Hospital has found a way to improve “photodynamic therapy” effects of killing cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.

Not only is pancreatic cancer diagnosed in an advanced stage, but more than 80 percent of patients are not suitable for surgery and have to receive radiotherapy or chemotherapy. However, pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis as it shows low response rate to the existing treatment, urgently requiring the development of a new better method.

Against this backdrop, the team has conducted a cell study using a new photosensitizer-encapsulated polymeric nanoparticle (PS-pNP), and proved enhanced photodynamic therapy effect by reducing the photodynamic agent release.

Photodynamic therapy is a different mechanism from conventional treatment where a drug called the photosensitizing agent is administered, and then the light is irradiated to destroy the cancer cells. Currently, photodynamic therapy is applied not only to cancer, but also to cardiovascular, skin, and eye diseases.

Professors Choi Myung-gu and Park Jae-myung

At the heart of photodynamic therapy is a photoreceptor where the photosensitizing agent is injected into the body. When the photosensitizing agent is exposed to a specific wavelength of light, they produce a form of oxygen that kills nearby cells.

The problem is that after the injection, the cancer cells in the body can cure itself by absorbing the photosensitizer, which causes the cell membrane carrier to leak the photosensitizer out of the cell, thereby reducing the efficiency of the treatment.

"While the clinical results of photodynamic therapy for various cancer therapies have been steadily presented, the development of photodynamic agents for slow photodynamic therapy has not been activated,” Professor Choi said. “The PS-pNP has proven to be a new light-sensitive drug with high efficacy and low side effects, and is expected to be used in clinical practice in the future.”


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