Light therapy now treats even the deepest cancer

Blue light phototherapy for a newborn

Light therapy is a safe, easy way to kill cancer and treat other diseases, but it’s normally limited by its nature to illnesses that are skin-deep. Washington University researchers aren’t daunted, however. They’ve developed a phototherapy method that brings light directly to tumor cells, no matter how deep they are. The technique has you ingesting sugar combined with radioactive fluorine and light-sensitive, cancer-fighting nanoparticles. When you go through a PET scan, the sugar lights up and promptly kicks the nanoparticles into high gear. Effectively, this is a Trojan horse — since tumors eagerly absorb sugar, they’re sowing the seeds of their own demise.

Before you ask: the procedure should be safe. The researchers note that the light and material are only targeted at tumors, so you shouldn’t get sick because of some stray nanoparticles floating around your body. There are far fewer drugs involved than in chemotherapy, too. And you may not have to wait long to find out how well this in-body light therapy works in practice — Washington University is already planning a small-scale trial for its approach. If it proves successful and leads to official approval, you may have a shot at recovering from particularly sinister forms of cancer without facing terrible side effects.

[Image credit: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images]

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Source: Washington University in St. Louis