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VIP Laser Clinic - Mauritius
Photodynamic Therapy Of Cancer

CAN ONE DEFEAT CANCER ONCE AND FOR ALL?

Millions of people ask this question. What should a person do if his or her relative suffers from this severe disease? Fortunately, science does not stand still.

The last decade has seen an outstanding breakthrough in the treatment of benign and malignant tumors. The Russian Government has been supporting an oncological program of photodynamic therapy at its leading oncological center in Moscow since 1994. This program included not only research activities, but it also dealt with the introduction of the latest diagnostic and therapeutic techniques into medical practice, putting special emphasis on the application of laser technologies, thus leading to the development of photodynamic therapy.

USA and other developed countries have initiated their own studies in the field of photodynamic therapy and FDA and other medical authorities have also approved this method of treatment for various types of cancers.

Hundreds of experts in biochemistry, chemistry, physics, biomedical science,  experimental and clinical medicine have come together in leading research institutions all over the world to join their efforts in the development of the new field of medical science known as 'Photodynamics'.

Today, photodynamic therapy (PDT) is widely applied to treat benign and malignant tumors. This technique has successfully passed clinical trials in leading oncological centers. The idea of this technique consists of introducing a special compound (chlorine-type photosensitizer)into the patient's body. This compound is of natural origin, and it produces no adverse effect on the patient. The photosensitizer is accumulated by malignant cells, enabling them to fluoresce. Consequently, the physician subjects the tumor to laser irradiation, which causes the death of the tumorous cells. 

Photodynamic therapy of cancer makes it possible to avoid surgical intervention, pharmacotherapy (intake of pharmaceutical preparations), chemotherapy, radiation therapy and their complications as well.

Photodynamic therapy is used for the treatment of other diseases, such as psoriasis - a serious skin disease, with reliable efficacy.

WHAT IS PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a special form of phototherapy, a term which includes all treatments which use light to induce reactions in the body which are of benefit to patients.

PDT is an info-energetic phototherapeutic technique which can potentially destroy unwanted tissue, whilst sparing normal tissue. First a drug called a photosensitiser is administered to the patient, usually by injection. The photosensitiser alone is harmless and has no effect on either healthy or abnormal tissue. However, when light (often from a laser) is directed onto tissue containing the drug, the drug becomes activated and the tissue is rapidly destroyed, but only precisely where the light has been directed. Thus, by careful application of the light beam, the technique can be targeted selectively to the abnormal tissue.

Some of the drugs being developed also have the desirable property of concentrating in tumours (and certain other kinds of proliferating tissue) relative to the surrounding healthy tissue, which also helps in targeting. There is only one potentially adverse effect - some drugs can result in skin photosensitivity, which means that patients must stay out of bright light for some time following the administration of the drug.

PDT, using the drug Photofrin®, has now been approved as a therapy for, as yet, a limited number of applications in various parts of the world including the USA and UK and it is now clear that there are some indications where PDT is at least as good as and possibly better than alternative treatments. However it has to be emphasised that PDT is still largely an experimental therapy and is currently only applicable to a very small range of patients. More research is needed to further develop and assess PDT with different drugs in different clinical situations. Nevertheless there is growing confidence that PDT will soon become an added weapon in the fight against cancer and other diseases.

The way that PDT works in patients in shown below:

The photosensitiser is given by injection A patient comes to the clinic with a tumour.
The photosensitiser is given by injection.
After time the photosensitiser concentrates in the tumour. photosensitisers concentrate in tumour tissue
activation by light The photosensitiser is activated by light
The tumour is selectively destroyed destruction of the tumour


 

PDT is currently being developed to treat both cancer and benign diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (Liverpool University Hospital).

Ref: Centre for Photobiology and Photodynamic Therapy, website of University of Leeds: http://www.bmb.leeds.ac.uk/pdt/index.html

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