Light-activated molecular ‘lock’ may help starve cancer, improve drug delivery

March 31st, 2009 - 2:16 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 31 (ANI): University of Florida researchers have announced the creation of a lock-live molecule based on exposure to light, which may prove helpful in starving cancer tumours or preventing side effects from a wide range of drugs.

While experimenting in the laboratory, the researchers put the lock on an enzyme involved in blood clotting.

The researcher exposed the enzyme to visible and ultraviolet light.

They have revealed that the clasp opened and closed, clotting the blood or letting it flow.

Based on their experiments’ results, the researchers came to the conclusion that the biological hardware may one day be used to prevent the formation of tiny blood vessels that feed tumours.

The team say that the little lock may also be placed in drugs, so that doctors may be enabled to release them only on diseased cells, tissues or organs.

According to them, this ability can maximize the treatment’s efficacy, while preventing side effects from damage to healthy tissue.

The researcher reckon that the drugs may be activated by simply exposing the skin nearest the targets to near-infrared light, which penetrates the skin.

“The major idea is to use photons to manipulate a molecule’s function,” said Weihong Tan, the V.T. and Lois Jackson chaired professor of chemistry and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center.

“The next step would be to deliver therapeutic re-agents at the site, for example, of a cancer tumour,” the researcher added.

A paper about the research has been published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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