Japanese scientists have developed a light implant to fight cancer

Japanese scientists at Waseda University in Tokyo have developed a tiny implant that kills cancer cells with light and can transform the treatment of some hard-to-reach tumors. An implant about the size of a postage stamp uses the so-called “sea glue”, which mussels produce to adhere to wet stones. Similarly, the “glue” helps the implant to stick to the tissues near the tumor.When the implant is in place, it turns on and emits light, which activates a medicine designed to destroy cancer cells. The photosensitive drug is swallowed or injected, and then circulated through the bloodstream until it is absorbed by the cells throughout the body, including cancer cells. It is important that the medicine is harmless until it is exposed to light. But the moment light hits the drug, it produces toxins that poison and kill cancer cells.

Such photodynamic therapy works well for some types of skin cancer, which are easily affected by an external light source. Meanwhile, tumors of the lung or esophagus can be treated by inserting a thin probe with a laser at the end through the mouth into the chest. However, many other cancers, such as the kidneys, liver, and pancreas, are located too deep inside the body, so treatment with a light laser is not possible in this case.

In fact, the new implant is a plastic box with dozens of tiny light bulbs. The surface of the implant is coated with chemical proteins called polydopamines, substances that mussels use to adhere to wet stones in the sea. This “glue” allows you to attach the implant to any organ or tissue by simply making a small incision near the site of the tumor and placing it under the skin. Tiny light bulbs produce enough light to activate a cure for cancer when they are turned on with the remote control.

In tests conducted on mice, scientists placed a new device next to tumors in the internal organs and injected a photosensitive drug. A few hours later, the doctors turned on the implant and left it in place for ten days. It was found that tumors in mice were significantly reduced, and in some cases were completely eliminated.

According to scientists, the implant is able to provide effective assistance in treating cancer, but can only work on relatively shallow tumors located on the surface of organs and tissues, since the light used in photodynamic therapy penetrates tissue only to a depth of about 5 millimeters.



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