Revolutionary therapy for prostate cancer coming to EuropeApr. 11, 2016
Tookad Soluble, a novel drug for prostate-cancer therapy delivered via injection and activated by laser light, was approved by Mexico’s health authority for early-stage prostate cancer earlier this year and now is undergoing advanced trials in Israel and Europe.
The revolutionary idea of photodynamic cancer therapy grew out of laboratory experiments at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, by Prof. Yoram Salomon of the biological regulation department and Prof. Avigdor Scherz of the plant and environmental sciences department.
Tookad Soluble was synthesized in Scherz’s lab from bacteriochlorophyll, the photosynthetic pigment of certain aquatic bacteria that make energy from sunlight.
Patients receive an intravenous infusion of Tookad Soluble immediately followed by near-infrared laser illumination through thin optic fibers inserted into the cancerous tissue guided by ultrasound imaging.
The illumination activates the drug to start circulating in the target tissue, releasing short-lived toxic oxygen and nitric oxide radicals that destroy the tumor’s blood vessels and thereby kill the tumorous cells while sparing nearby organs. The drug is totally eliminated, with no toxic residue, three to four hours after the 90-minute procedure.
This method makes it possible for the first time to treat large, deeply embedded cancerous tissue in a minimally invasive procedure.
Patients are released a few hours later and can return to normal activities within a few days, with none of the side effects frequently associated with prostate removal by surgery or radiotherapy.
“The new minimally invasive procedure using Tookad offers a good alternative to patients diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer,” said Amir Naiberg, CEO of Yeda Research and Development Company, the Weizmann Institute’s technology transfer arm.