Taurine addition boosts photodynamic therapy for brain tumours: Japan study

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The modified complexes were particularly effective in destroying brain cancer cells. ©iStock
The modified complexes were particularly effective in destroying brain cancer cells. ©iStock

Related tags Cancer

Adding taurine to photosensitizers — which are used to treat brain tumours — boosts the emission of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) that kills cancer cells.

Photodynamic therapy is often used to treat brain tumours because of its specificity — it can target very small regions containing cancerous cells while sparing the normal cells around it from damage.

It involves a photosensitizer being injected into the bloodstream, where it gathers in cells, then exposing the drug-filled cells to light. When the photosensitizer is exposed to this light, it emits a reactive oxygen species (ROS) that causes the cells to die.

Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have now found a way to improve the solubility and effectiveness of the photosensitizer by adding taurine to its chemical composition.  

Inspired by taurine’s important relationship with the brain, as well as the fact that it is biocompatible and naturally soluble in water, the OIST research team used it to modify its Ru-complexes.

“Taurine modification is pretty simple,”​ OIST Professor Ye Zhang said. “By simple chemistry, it can be added to the Ru-complexes to create a new type of photosensitizer.”

Highly effective

The OIST researchers found that the taurine-modified Ru-complexes were able to enter cells effectively and that they generated a large amount of ROS when exposed to light, all without compromising inherent advantages.

In addition, they found that the modified complexes were particularly effective in destroying brain cancer cells, as opposed to other types of cancer cells. 

The academics say the taurine-modified photosensitizer is a promising new avenue of exploration for better brain cancer treatment with photodynamic therapy.

Source: Chemical Communications

DOI: 10.1039/C7CC03337K

“Taurine-modified Ru(II)-complex targets cancerous brain cells for photodynamic therapy”

Authors: Enming Du, et al.

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