How iridium and light will help defeat cancer

Scientists from the University of Warwick(Great Britain) in collaboration with colleagues from China, France and Switzerland have developed a unique methodology for the treatment of cancer. And this is not about a new effective medicine. Experts have created a technology that uses light to activate a cancer-killing compound based on an iridium metal. Moreover, the method almost does not affect the normal cells of the human body, which significantly expands the range of diseases that can respond to therapy.

New cancer treatment can save hundreds of lives

The new method is described in detail in the article,published in Nature Chemistry. The work is based on a rather long-known technology called Photodynamic Therapy (PDT). It uses light to kill cancerous tumors in the body by activating a chemical called a photosensitizer. The photosensitizer is good in that it is able to "start work" only in the presence of light of a certain wavelength. Using this method, doctors can direct light to specific areas of a cancerous tumor and avoid damage to normal tissues.

Modern methods of photodynamic therapy inMostly rely on the presence of oxygen, but many tumors are “hypoxic,” which means they are deficient in oxygen in the surrounding tissues. Therefore, PDT can be used not so often because of poor blood supply. An international team of scientists has now developed an iridium-based compound that will kill cancer cells even at low oxygen concentrations.

Doctors are fighting all the time in the treatment of cancer. Drugs can kill cancer cells, but with repeated treatment the cells become resistant, they learn to chemically modify the drug or counteract its mechanism of action. Therefore, we need new treatments for tumor diseases. - says one of the authors of the work, Professor Peter Sadler. The new method of therapy will help cure any tumors where light can be used. For example, it is suitable for the treatment of cancer of the bladder, lungs, esophagus, brain and skin.

This is what a device for photodynamic therapy looks like. There are various modifications, but the essence is always the same: light + substance, which is activated only in its presence

After light activation, the iridium compoundacts on the mechanism responsible for the production of energy in cancer cells. The main substance in this mechanism is abbreviated NADH, but if you are interested in its “full name” and want to practice articulation, then please: “nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide”. Try to pronounce this word quickly 3 times in a row and write in our Telegram channel if you succeeded. But let's not be distracted, after the destruction of the NADH reproduction mechanism, the entire nutritional system of living cancer cells is destroyed, thereby causing its death. In this case, the iridium compound practically does not affect ordinary body cells.

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The team of scientists also noted that asas cancer cells die, they change their structure so that the body begins to recognize their “distinctive features,” which is known as the immunotherapeutic response. This suggests that those patients who are cured using this method can be immunized against the re-development of a cancer of the same type. That is, people can be protected from relapse.