Yulia Karra
August 24, 2023

A new study from Israel’s Ariel University shows that nanotechnology-powered photodynamic therapy (PDT) is effective in fighting breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer diagnosis among women worldwide. According to a World Health Organization report, in 2020 at least 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer globally. At least 685,000 breast cancer-related deaths were recorded worldwide the same year.

Although PDT is already being used by medical professionals to treat cancer, its application is currently limited. The light used in the therapy has a short range and only targets areas close to the surface of the skin and small tumors.

The Ariel University researchers managed to overcome that obstacle by integrating nanotechnology into the treatment process.

They created a drug that can be stimulated by infrared light, which can penetrate deeper than regular light, and minimized the distance between the drug and the harmonic nanoparticle.

The researchers said the new method will enable future PDT treatments to reach tissues that weren’t previously accessible, vastly improving the method’s potential. PDT, unlike other common methods to treat cancer, has relatively few side effects.

An enhanced method of phototherapy against breast cancer
Dr. Refael Minnes from the Department of Physics. Photo courtesy of Ariel University

The study was led by PhD student Ayan Barbora from the research team of senior lecturer Refael Minnes from the Department of Physics at Ariel University’s Faculty of Natural Sciences.

“The ability to harness the depth-penetrating power of infrared light, combined with the precision offered by nanotechnology, means we are now able to target and treat tumor sites that were previously out of reach. This innovation not only signifies a revolutionary leap in the realm of cancer therapy but also brings a beacon of hope for countless patients and their families,” Dr. Minnes told ISRAEL21c.

The study was recently published in the Spectrochimica Acta Part A journal.

“Our findings enable rapid clinical adaptation of the latest advanced light delivery systems to develop optimized NIR pulsed laser photodynamic therapy from classical visible light reactive photosensitizers,” the authors conclude.

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