Thursday, 16 August 2007

FSU chemists use light-activated molecules to kill cancer cells

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Florida State University researchers are working on ways to induce apoptosis, or cell death, in cancer cells by damaging their DNA strands with light, in a field of chemistry known as photochemistry.

According to Igor V. Alabugin, "We have found that a group of cancer-killing molecules known as lysine conjugates can identify a damaged spot, or 'cleavage,' in a single strand of DNA and then induce cleavage on the DNA strand opposite the damage site. This 'double cleavage' of the DNA is very difficult for the cell to repair and typically leads to apoptosis."

In an example of this technique, doctors treating an esophageal tumor might first inject the tumor with a drug containing these lysine conjugates and then hit the tumor with a specific light, activating the drug and leading to double-strand DNA damage and then cell death.

Alabugin collaborated in separate test with Dr. John A. Copland of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Florida. In these tests, the drug plus the phototherapy activation killed more than 90 percent of metastatic human kidney cancer cells with a single treatment.

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