Counting cancer-busting oxygen molecules—5 February 2016

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) have shown that nanoparticles, used in combination with X-rays, are a viable method for killing cancer cells deep within the living body. The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports is based on the successful quantification of singlet oxygen produced during photodynamic therapy for cancer. Singlet oxygen molecules (a highly reactive form of oxygen) are able to kill or inhibit growth of cancer cells in the body due to their toxicity.

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. Co-lead author on the research paper and Deputy Director of the CNBP, Professor Ewa Goldys, said the research is significant, as this is the first time that anyone has been able to quantify accurately, the number of singlet oxygen molecules produced in this type of procedure. “Singlet oxygen molecules are a far more reactive form of oxygen but they can only kill cancer cells if generated in sufficient quantity. In our testing we established that therapeutic radiation dose X-rays, produce enough singlet oxygen molecules to be effective in photodynamic therapy.”

Media issued by the Macquarie University.

Image: Professor Ewa Goldys.
Image courtesy: Macquarie University.

Original Published Date: 
Friday, February 5, 2016