Exploring Calcium as a Promising Candidate for Cancer Treatment


Exploring Calcium as a Promising Candidate for Cancer Treatment

Researchers at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul have developed a promising anti-cancer drug that targets malignant tumors by regulating the amount of calcium in cells.

Published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the study utilizes a drug composed of silica nanoparticles containing dyes. These nanoparticles are recognized and transported by tumors into target cells. Upon activation by infrared light, the dye initiates a dual attack mechanism.

Illustration of drugs attacking cancer cells. Photo: iStock

Firstly, it generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) molecules, opening calcium channels in the cell’s outer membrane. Simultaneously, the nanoparticles heat up, causing the release of stored calcium within the cell, resulting in the destruction of the tumor.

While the efficacy of this technique has been demonstrated in laboratory research using cultured cancer cells, subsequent tests on mice revealed that the drug remained localized within the tumor. Upon exposure to near-infrared light, the drug effectively caused tumors in mice to disappear within a few days.

Although further research is necessary before human trials, scientists believe that the activation of ion channels represents a potential avenue for cancer treatment.

Cancer incidence and mortality rates continue to rise globally, particularly in developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports nearly 20 million new cases of cancer annually, with over 10 million deaths, two-thirds of which occur in developing nations.

Thuc Linh (According to NY Post, New Atlantic)

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