Near-infrared irradiation coupled with a cancer-targeting compound could treat a rare type of malignant lung cancer, according to findings published the journal Cells.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare type of cancer that affects the lung lining. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body, but is usually diagnosed too late, leading to a poor prognosis and very limited treatment options.

Sato and colleagues investigated the effectiveness of near-infrared photoimmunotherapy (NIR-PIT) as a treatment strategy for MPM. NIR-PIT has been fast-tracked for approval by the US Food & Drug Administration for treatment of a type of malignant head and neck tumor. For NIR-PIT to work, a cancer-targeting compound must first be injected. The compound is made of an antibody, which targets a specific structure on the cancer cells, and a photoabsorber, called IR700. When near-infrared light is shone on the body part affected by cancer, the compound aggregates on the cancer cell membranes, leading to acute cell rupture and tumor death.

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