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A promising cancer therapy in development

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Nitric oxide, which is known for its role in regulating blood pressure, has been attracting the attention of cancer researchers in recent years because it causes programmed cell death, or apoptosis. Pradip Mascharak, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz, developed a therapy that uses novel, light-sensitive compounds that are absorbed by cancer cells and release nitric oxide, which in turn triggers cell death.

Mascharak:    We don't know the pathways yet, we are studying them now, but cells are dying within six to eight hours. We saw the very invasive breast cancer cells are entering apoptopic cycle.

Narrator:       So far, the therapy has been successful in the lab. The next step is to see how it works in a whole body system.

Mascharak:    This is a very long process to take a treatment from laboratory to the hospital bed. It takes years and it needs a lot of experts. So, we are working with the UCLA Medical School team.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.