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Novel compounds that can target and kill cancer cells

       This is Science Today. New light-sensitive compounds that can target and kill cancer cells have been developed by chemists at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Pradip Mascharak says these novel compounds are absorbed by cancer cells and when exposed to wavelengths of light, they release nitric oxide, which triggers cell death.

Mascharak:    So, the idea was that if we can increase the local concentration of nitric oxide at a certain site, you'll be able to selectively kill that target. So, we targeted solid tumors, like skin malignancies or prostate cancer or small breast tumors.

Narrator:       The technique was successful in the lab and since it causes apoptosis, or programmed cell death, there is no local swelling or inflammation, which is often associated with existing photodynamic therapies.

Mascharak:    Some of our initial results are very positive. So, we are trying to do now instead of cellular model, we are going into a whole life model and then see how it works.

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