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Light-activatable Substances – a new Weapon in the Fight against Cancer

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 5:12am
Frankfurt – On February 4, World Cancer Day, the public attention for the fight against cancer will be raised once more: In Germany alone, 400.000 new instances of cancer are counted every year. The good news: More and more people affected can be helped effectively. In addition to mainstream treatments like chemo therapy, radiation and surgery, new therapeutic approaches like Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) or results from molecular biologic research will be increasingly applied in the future.

Concerning this, Dr. Winrich Rauschning, oncologist and PDT specialist, comments: "The future of cancer therapy belongs among others to molecular biological research. It reveals the mechanisms carcinogenesis. These insights resulted in the idea to influence specific metabolic processes with the aim to prevent carcinogenesis or slow it down. Here, there are trend-setting approaches in place that may once be developed into a cancer vaccine", Rauschning explained. "Light in combination with so-called photosensitizes (PDT) can often be a very good alternative and addition, because it works locally in a very accurate way. Good examples are skin tumors and the head and neck area." Battling cancer cells with light-sensitive, non-toxic agents reacting with light respectively laser light takes place in a gentle and function-conserving way as well as mostly without scarring. Thus PDT also offers patients significant value for aesthetic reasons.

Photodynamic Therapy is a procedure for the treatment of tumors and other tissue mutations. It applies light in combination with a light-activatable substance (photo sensitizer) and oxygen present in the tissue. The sensitizer gathers selectively in the tumor or tissue mutation. When the cancer cells are exposed to light with the appropriate wave length, reactive types of oxygen are generated impacting on and destroying cancer cells.

In Germany, there are a growing number of hospitals and medical practices treating patients with PDT. In England and the Netherlands, photodynamic therapy is already paid for by the public health insurances.

The initiative "Light against Cancer" aims at increasing the publicity of Photodynamic Therapy. In this way, the discussion about parallel and combined forms of cancer treatments shall be fostered. Further information is collected also in English on the website http://www.licht-gegen-krebs.de/en/

About "Light against Cancer"

"Light against cancer" is an ambitious private initiative against cancer with a focus on Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) in Germany. "Light against cancer" intends to make PDT better known to the public and help to entrench it as an established form of therapy against the widespread disease cancer. We have set ourselves the goal to educate about PDT and to convince physicians and people affected of the advantages of PDT.

Posted by Sean Fenske, Editor-in-Chief, MDT

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