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Platinum, Blue Light Combine to Combat Cancer
Dec 2010
COVENTRY, England, Dec. 14, 2010 — Research led by the University of Warwick has found a way to use blue light to activate what could be a highly potent platinum-based cancer treatment.

The team, also consisting of researchers from Ninewells Hospital Dundee and the University of Edinburgh, have found a new light-activated platinum-based compound that is up to 80 times more powerful than other platinum-based anticancer drugs and which can use “light activation” to kill cancer cells in a much more targeted way than similar treatments.

Professor Peter Sadler, University of Warwick.

The University of Warwick team had already found a platinum-based compound that they could activate with ultraviolet light but that narrow wave length of light would have limited its use. The researchers discovered a new platinum based compound known as trans,trans,trans-[Pt(N3)2(OH)2(py)2] that can be activated by normal visible blue, or even green, light. It is also stable and easy to work with, and it is water soluble so it can simply dissolve and be flushed out of the body after use.

The University of Warwick researchers passed the new compound to colleagues at Ninewells Hospital Dundee, who tested it on esophageal cancer cells cultivated within lab equipment. Those tests show that once activated by blue light the compound was highly effective requiring a concentration of just 8.4 micro moles per liter to kill 50 percent of the cancer cells. The researchers are also beginning to examine the compound’s effectiveness against ovarian and liver cancer cells. Early results there are also excellent but that testing work is not yet complete.

“This compound could have a significant impact on the effectiveness of future cancer treatments. Light activation provides this compound’s massive toxic power and also allows treatment to be targeted much more accurately against cancer cells,” said Peter Sadler, professor in the Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick. “The special thing about our complex is that it is not only activated by ultra-violet light, but also by low doses of blue or green light. Light activation generates a powerful cytotoxic compound that has proven to be significantly more effective than treatments such as cisplatin.

“We believe that photoactivated platinum complexes will make it possible to treat cancers that have previously not reacted to chemotherapy with platinum complexes,” said Sadler. “Tumors that have developed resistance to conventional platinum drugs could respond to these complexes and with less side-effects.”

This research has been supported by the EPSRC, MRC, ERC and Science City (ERDF/AWM).

For more information, visit: 

Basic ScienceBiophotonicsblue lightcisplatincytotoxic compoundEnglandesophageal cancerEuropelight activationlight sourcesNinewells Hospital Dundeeovarian cancerplatinum-based anticancer drugplatinum-based cancer treatmentResearch & Technologythe University of Edinburghtrans trans trans-[Pt(N3)2(OH)2(py)2]tumorsultraviolet lightUniversity of WarwickLEDs

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