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Let There Be Light


A new cancer treatment approach — light-based therapy — has been shown to kill cancer cells in mice, reports Technology Review's Erica Westly. The method, developed by researchers at NCI, utilizes a heat-sensitive fluorescent dye paired with cancer-specific antibodies — the dye heats up and burns small holes into the membrane of the cell it is attached to when exposed to near-infrared light, killing the cell, Westly says. The antibodies are used to target proteins that are over-expressed in cancer cells, so normal cells will be spared. The study, published in Nature Medicine, shows that the treatment reduced tumor growth in mice, and prolonged survival. There are still a few problems to work out before the treatment can be tested in humans, however. The researchers don't know what effect the treatment will have on large tumors, and it may be hard to find the right dye-biomarker combinations, Westly says. But experts are encouraged by the lack of toxicity, and the method could serve as a secondary therapy by helping surgeons label cancer cells that remain after surgery to target them for clean-up, she adds.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.