publication date: Oct. 28, 2016

In Brief Achilefu Gets DOD Distinguished Investigator Award in Breast Cancer

SAMUEL ACHILEFU, a scientist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, became the first recipient of the Breast Cancer Research Program Distinguished Investigator Award, from the U.S. Department of Defense.

As part of the award, Achilefu will receive $4.5 million to support his work to use light to activate drugs and the immune system in the body. He is developing the approach as a safer and more effective way to treat breast cancer than currently available chemotherapy drugs.

A Washington University team led by Achilefu used a mouse model of cancer to devise a way to apply light-based therapy, called stimulated intracellular light therapy (SILT), to deep tissues never before accessible.

Instead of shining an outside light, they delivered light directly to tumor cells, in the form of an imaging agent frequently used in PET scans. This light source, along with a novel cancer-targeting product and a chemotherapy drug–one that is a photosensitive source of free radicals that can be activated by the light–selectively kill cancer cells.

The researchers did so using materials already approved for use in cancer patients. Further, the therapy destroys the cancer gradually, triggering an immune response that further enhances the attack on tumor cells.

“The goal is to harness the power of light and … Continue reading Achilefu Gets DOD Distinguished Investigator Award in Breast Cancer

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