New Study Finds Light-Activated Cancer Drugs Do Not Have Toxic Side Effects

A new research has been able to reveal that in the coming future, cancer drugs that get activated by light and may not result in toxic form of side effects can become a reality in the chemotherapy treatments provided to patients. The research study was led by the researchers of the Monash Warwick Alliance, partnership between the University of Warwick (UK) and Monash University (Australia). The location of the two universities has made it an intercontinental collaboration.

The treatment was originally created by the research group of Professor Pete Sadler located in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Warwick. It incorporated an inorganic-metal compound that had an unusual mechanism and the ability to kill cancer cells located in specific targeted areas. This was done in an attempt to reduce the toxic side effects of the current line of chemotherapy on the health tissues.

Being completely non-toxic and inactive in the dark, this treatment method can be administered to cancerous areas. When lights are on, the functions of the treatment gets triggered resulting in the degradation of the compound in an active platinum to release ligand molecules known for attacking cancer cells.

With the help of a spectroscopic technique, called infrared spectroscopy, the researchers tried to see the changes incurred by the compound when the metal and the molecules are released. Infrared light was shone on the metal compound for measuring the molecules vibrations when it gets activated.

This helped in discovering the physical and chemical properties of the specific compound. The fresh insight received about the mechanisms of the cancer treatment has a new hope to deliver in the coming future to patients who have to undergo photoactive chemotherapy drug treatment.

Robbin Vernooij, joint researcher and lead author belonging to the Monash Warwick Alliance, mentioned that it is not possible to deny the short comings of most of the chemotherapeutic agents. This has led to the ongoing effort of developing new forms of therapies by understanding the mechanisms involved in the new agents. Therefore, it is necessary for developing effective as well as selective therapies for reducing the burden most patients face.

This is quite an interesting step taken to bring researchers a step closer to the goal of finding effective and selective cancer treatments.

Peter Sadler explained that more than 50 percent of the chemotherapy treatments used for cancer make use of platinum compound. If there is a possibility to introduce new platinum compounds for avoiding side effects, it could work as a great advantage.

Photoactive platinum compounds have the potential to offer such possibilities. They are not designed to destroy cells unless irradiated with the help of light. The light can be directed towards the tumour to avoid any unwanted damage to the health tissues.