According to a set of new reports, a group of scientists hailing from Scotland have hit a run of successful tests when using a new drug that can target and kill cancer cells while leaving the nearby and health tissue unmolested.
From the University of Edinburgh, the researchers thought to combine a tiny cancer-killing molecule, dubbed SeNBD, with a type of chemical food compound. This ended up tricking the cancer cells into ingesting the molecule. This new combination had been named a “Trojan Horse,” as reported by The Herald.
Already peer-reviewed, the study utilized zebrafish and human cells. The group of scientists has stated that even more research into the area needs to be conducted in order to see if it is safe to use in the treatment of early-stage cancer and possibly even drug-resistance bacteria.
“Cancerous cells are ‘greedy’ and need to consume high amounts of food for energy and they typically ingest more than healthy cells, said the University of Edinburgh. By coupling SeNBD with a chemical food compound it becomes the ‘ideal prey for harmful cells’ which ingest it ‘without being alerted to its toxic nature,'” stated the Herald.
As stated by the scientists, SeNBD is a light-activated “photosensitizer.” This means that it kills cells when activated by light. A surgeon could use the combo to target the cancer cells only while leaving other healthier cells completely intact.
“Switching on the drug with light means a surgeon could decide exactly where they want the drug to be active, avoiding the chances of attacking healthy tissue and preventing the kind of side effects caused by other drugs,” stated the group from the university.
“Coupling the drug with a food compound is key to its success. For cells to survive, they must consume chemical components of food – known as metabolites – such as sugars and amino acids for energy,” continued the university in a press release about the subject. Cancer and bacterial cells “consume higher concentrations and different types of metabolites than healthy cells. Pairing SeNBD with a metabolite makes it ideal prey for harmful cells. Until now, most light-activated drugs have been bigger than metabolites, which means bacteria and cancer cells do not recognize them as normal food.”
“This research represents an important advance in the design of new therapies that can be simply activated by light irradiation, which is generally very safe,” stated the chairman of translational chemistry and Biomedical Imaging at the university, Professor Marc Vendrell.
“SeNBD is one of the smallest photosensitizers ever made and its use as a ‘Trojan horse’ opens many new opportunities in interventional medicine for killing harmful cells without affecting surrounding healthy tissue,” he concluded.