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Physics professor researching Nanotechnology to improve photodynamic therapy for breast cancer treatment

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Friday, July 18, 2008

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Media Contact: Sue Stevens

ARLINGTON - A University of Texas at Arlington professor believes photodynamic therapy, which has been used successfully in treating skin cancers, can be an effective treatment for breast cancer. But the potentially life-saving treatment has been thwarted by the difficulty of light penetration into deep tissue. Wei Chen, an assistant professor of physics, thinks he knows how to overcome that obstacle.

With the help of a $109,155 grant from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Chen will research a new photodynamic therapy (PDT) mediated by long-lasting afterglow nanoparticles. He proposes a new PDT system with light generated by afterglow nanoparticles with attached photosensitizers. When the nanoparticle-photosensitizer conjugates are targeted to tumor, the light from afterglow nanoparticles will activate the photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy. Therefore, no external light is required for treatment. That means the therapy can be used to treat deep tumors such as breast cancer because the light source is attached to the photosensitizers and is delivered to the tumor cells together.

Chen said the first step is to generate routine synthesis with optimal control of particle characteristics such as afterglow efficiency and longevity. The nanoparticles will be rigorously characterized and then tested for photodynamic activation, to include efficacy and toxicity in vitro cultures of cells.

To learn more about the research, contact Chen at (817) 272-1064.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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