Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands are using nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy to tackle oral squamous cell carcinoma in feline patients. The method utilizes light, along with a tumour-cell targeted, light-sensitive chemical to precisely trigger cancer cell death, the foundation reports.
“There is a great need for treatments of this specific type of cancer,” says Utrecht University associate professor, Sabrina Santos Oliveira, PhD. “Nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy could provide a new opportunity for treating cats.”
Oral squamous cell carcinoma is the most common oral cancer in cats, accounting for roughly eight to 10 per cent of all cancers diagnosed, Morris Animal Foundation says. The tumours make eating and drinking difficult and are painful.
The cancer spreads locally and imbeds deeply into the oral tissue, making complete surgical removal rare. Once diagnosed, the average survival time for feline patients is three months.
“I cannot stress enough the need for new treatments for this terrible cancer,” says Morris Animal Foundation’s chief scientific officer, Janet Patterson-Kane, BVSc., PhD, FRCVS. “If effective, nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy could help thousands of cats affected by oral squamous cell carcinoma each year.”
While conventional photodynamic therapy uses light and a light-sensitive chemical to treat cancer, nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy uses tumour-cell targeted antibody fragments coupled to the chemical, offering a more precise treatment, Morris Animal Foundation reports.
Dr. Santos Oliveira plans to move the treatment to clinical cases in the next few months. She anticipates the study will take two years to complete.