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Microneedles to treat cancer


A dressing made up of hundreds of microscopic needles that dissolve in the body promises to improve skin cancer treatment with photodynamic therapy, which uses light to activate compounds that destroy tumor cells. The microneedles inject aminolevulinic acid into deeper layers of the skin than the creams currently used. Activated by a laser, the acid triggers the production of compounds that are toxic to cancer cells. Laboratory tests on animals given a human form of skin cancer found that the microneedles increased the amount of destroyed cells to 95%, up from 83% in animals treated with topical cream (Journal of Biophotonics, September 27). “To make the technique as efficient as surgery, we need to improve the rate of tumor destruction,” says physicist Vanderlei Bagnato, from the University of São Paulo (USP) in São Carlos, leader of the study and head of the Center for Optics and Photonics Research, one of FAPESP’s Research, Innovation, and Dissemination Centers (RIDC).