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Light-Activated Cancer Therapy Isn’t Just Skin Deep

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Nanoparticles used in combination with X-rays can be used to kill cancer cells deep within the body, according to research published in Scientific Reports (

The research is based on the successful quantification of singlet oxygen, a highly reactive form of oxygen that has been used in photodynamic therapy to kill or inhibit the growth of cancer cells. “Photodynamic therapy is where light-sensitive compounds are placed near diseased cells, then activated by light, producing short-lived molecular by-products that can destroy or damage the cells being targeted,” explains Prof Ewa Goldys of Macquarie University.

“In this case, X-rays were used to stimulate cerium fluoride (CeF3) nanoparticles which had been placed near a group of cells. Singlet oxygen was produced as a by-product of the X-ray and CeF3 interaction, which was then successfully measured.

“Singlet oxygen molecules are a far more reactive form of oxygen but they can only kill cancer cells if generated in sufficient quantity”, said Goldys. “In our testing we established that therapeutic radiation dose X-rays produce enough singlet oxygen molecules to be effective in photodynamic therapy.”

Goldys says photodynamic therapy has traditionally used near-infrared or visible light, but this...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.