Photodynamic therapy is pain-free as it requires no cuts
Photodynamic therapy, a pain-free technique for treating cancer, has been launched in Chandigarh, Punjab, India by the Netherlands-based pharmaceutical firm Brema Pharma International, recently.
Photodynamic therapy is pain free and not results in cuts as it does not employ surgical methods to treat cancer patients.
Photodynamic therapy uses lasers and light sensitive drugs. Currently, this technique is practiced nowhere in India.
“Photodynamic therapy requires no cuts. It is pain-free and the recovery period is also very short,’ Parminder Kaur, managing director of Brema Pharma (India and Netherlands), said.
Brema is planning to invest 1 million euros ($1.4 million) in its Indian operations to promote photodynamic therapy through awareness campaigns, road shows and by collaborating with premier medical institutions.
Most of the current treatments is beneficial at early stages of cancer. Quite often two thirds of patients reveal advanced cancer. Only a half of them undergo special treatment. However, surgery, radiotherapy, and combined treatment have limited capabilities for advanced cancer. The rates of recovery and five-year survival are below 10 percent after such treatments. Most of the patients die of relapses and metastases, which appear after radical treatment during the next two years.
Besides that, many patients (up to 25 percent) have operable cancer, but cannot undergo surgical treatment. This is because of serious associated diseases and age-related disorders. These patients often undergo organ-saving surgical treatment. However, such treatment also has a high rate of local relapses.
Photodynamic therapy is a therapeutic technique that uses the photodynamic damaging of tumor cells by means of photochemical reactions.
Photodynamic therapy involves two components. The first component is a photosensitizer, which is accumulated in tumors. It remains in tumor cells longer than in healthy cells. The second component is optical radiation whose wavelength corresponds to the photosensitizer’s absorption maximum. The local irradiation of a tumor containing the photosensitizer brings about photochemical reactions in it. These reactions generate singlet oxygen and free radicals that produce a toxic effect on tumor cells.
Photodynamic therapy usually accompany chemotherapy in treatment of postoperative relapses of different cancers, for rehabilitation after radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and for treatment of solitary distant metastases remained after a radical surgery.
A course of photodynamic therapy includes three steps. First, the patient is injected (usually intravenously) with a solution of photosensitizer. Next step is accumulation of the photosensitizer inside the tumor. By observing fluorescence of the sensitizer, conclusion can be made about the size of the tumor and its location.
On the third step, the target area is irradiated with light of a specified wavelength during 15–20 minutes. Light source is usually a laser, and a system of light cables guides the light into internal organs. Neoplastic cells with accumulated photosensitizer suffer from highly toxic photochemical reactions and undergo necrosis, while the neighboring normal cells remain undamaged.
On the fourth step, which takes two to four weeks, the tumor regresses and is substituted by the normal tissues.
The most commonly used photosensitizer hematoporphyrin. Hematoporphyrin that has been used in treatment of oncological patients since the beginning of the 20th century.
Photodynamic therapy is can be included in treatment of the following tumors: Basal cell carcinoma, prostate cancer, rectal cancer, gastric cancer, breast cancer, soft tissue sarcomas, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, thyroid cancer, endometrial cancer and malignant melanoma.
Second-generation photosensitizers are promising in prevention and treatment of lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, renal cancer, pharyngeal cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the lip, brain cancer, cancer of the colon, cancer of the tongue, ovarian cancer, and vaginal cancer, according to a company release
Presently, photodynamic therapy technique is used in hospitals of Europe.
In India Brema Pharma has started its operations in a private skin hospital in Panchkula in Haryana. Brema plans to first treat skin cancer patients and then extending to cover all cancer patients.
The Chandigarh administration has also plans to promote photodynamic therapy to government run hospitals if the results are found encouraging.
Brema Pharma International B.V. was set up in The Netherlands in autumn 2003 by its founder Harrie Vink.