Scientists have successfully developed a revolutionary cancer treatment that lights up and wipes out microscopic cancer cells, in a breakthrough that could enable surgeons to more effectively target and destroy the disease in patients.
A European team of engineers, physicists, neurosurgeons, biologists and immunologists from the UK, Poland and Sweden joined forces to design the new form of photoimmunotherapy.
Experts believe it is destined to become the world’s fifth major cancer treatment after surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy.
The light-activated therapy forces cancer cells to glow in the dark, helping surgeons remove more of the tumours compared with existing techniques – and then kills off remaining cells within minutes once the surgery is complete.
Trials of the new form of photoimmunotherapy, led by the Institute of Cancer Research, London, also showed the treatment triggered an immune response that could prime the immune system to target cancer cells in future, suggesting it could prevent glioblastoma coming back after surgery.
Scientists from the ICR, Imperial College London, the Medical University of Silesia, Poland, and the Swedish company AffibodyAB believe the novel treatment could help surgeons more easily and effectively remove particularly challenging tumours, such as those in the head and neck.