Chemotherapy Results Could Be Seen Instantaneously

Doctors and patients could be able to know whether chemotherapy is working or not within a span of eight hours after being treated, new study reveals.

Cancer patients and doctors offering treatment normally have to wait for a long time to know whether chemotherapy is working. It may at times take several treatments/sessions to detect any changes and in some cases a patient will only experience very mild changes even after completing a treatment plan.

Researchers based at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, US are optimistic that they have unearthed a technique that gives the results in matter of hours rather than weeks or months. This enables health givers to know the rate at which the cancer cells are being destroyed as well as shrinking of the tumor.    chemotherapy

The ground-breaking discovery is based on nanoparticle technology which is used in the cancer therapy and also reading the results. When the cancer cells die or reduce the region that is affected, it glows green alerting the researchers on the effectiveness of chemotherapy or resistance of the cancer cells.    

According to Dr Shiladitya Sengupta, principal investigator at the Bioengineering Division of the Brigham and Women's Hospital, the cells start illuminating once the therapy starts working and this is noticed within eight hours. Such technology will minimize over usage of chemotherapy especially when it is not working.

When cancerous cells die, they activate an enzyme referred to as caspase, and by incorporating a special chemical in the drugs used in chemotherapy, the reaction between caspase and the chemical makes the region glow. On average, the cancer drugs will have circulated and started acting on the cells within eight hours.

In the report contained in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences publication, the chemical not only fights off and kills the cancer cells but also shows the progress in real-time. Areas that don’t glow indicate the drug isn’t working and alternative treatment should be sought.

The technique has so far been tried out on skin cancer and prostate cancer and the results are promising as a large region glowed after the drugs reached the zone. Later experiments showed that a good number of the cancerous cells or tumor had been destroyed.

Besides chemotherapy, the technology is also being tested on alternative cancer treatment methods such as immunotherapy. Researchers have found out that tumors subjected to this therapy emitted a fluorescent signal after about five days.

The findings are quite encouraging but are yet to be tried out on human beings although plans are underway to start the testing. This latest findings are quite encouraging and many hope for the day they will actually be put in use.