Research highlight

Cancer cells see the light

Nature Medicine

December 1, 2011

A method for selectively killing tumor cells — photoimmunotherapy — is reported in a study published online this week in Nature Medicine.

Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are the mainstay of modern cancer therapy, but more targeted therapies aimed at specific molecules have been developed with some success.

Hisataka Kobayashi and his colleagues add photoimmunotherapy as a new weapon to the arsenal of targeted cancer therapy. This method uses anti-tumor antibodies coupled to a molecule that responds to near-infrared light. The authors found that when they shone near-infrared light on mice with tumors, the cancer cells selectively died.

Although other light-based therapies have been previously developed, Kobayashi and colleagues found one important difference — the modified antibody was not toxic unless it was attached to its target cells. This property may be critical if this technology is to have clinical potential.

doi: 10.1038/nm.2554

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