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New Treatment Makes Cancer Cells Glow

FILE - Doctors are seen operating on a cancer patient at a Nairobi hospital. According to health officials, most cancer cases in Kenya are diagnosed only at an advanced stage. (Photo - Rael Ombuor/VOA)

A new substance that makes cancer cells glow could make cancer surgeries much more effective, according to a new study.

Writing in the journal Chemistry of Materials, researchers at Oregon State University say silicon naphthalocyanine makes cancer cells glow in near-infrared light and “creates heat and reactive oxygen species within any remaining cancer cells, killing them.”

“This system that can make cancer cells glow is like giving the surgeon an extra pair of eyes,” said Olena Taratula, a research assistant professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy, and lead author on the published study. “And the compound we’re working with now is inexpensive and appears effective at killing any cancer cells that remain.”

Once injected, the substance was completely absorbed by tumors within 24 hours and had disappeared from the rest of the body.

In laboratory tests involving animals, the researchers say ovarian tumors were “completely eradicated” with no side effects.

Researchers added that silicon naphthalocyanine, which is non-toxic and biodegradable, could be used for other solid tumors.

The next step, researchers said, will be to test the substance on dogs with cancerous tumors and then possible human clinical trials.

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