1 August 2009

Scientists from P4L fight skin damaging side effects of chemotherapy

More than half of all cancer patients in Europe receive chemotherapy – the application of drugs that destroy the cancer cells in the human body. Most of these drugs direct their destructive effect not only on the tumour itself, but partially also on healthy tissue. Particularly affected are fast growing cells, such as those located in the guts or in the hair roots. The consequences for patients like nausea or hair loss are well known and also a mental burden. Less obvious, but far more painful are sore points of the skin, especially on the palms and soles. 60 percent of all chemotherapy patients have these kinds of side effects. They often lead to the stop of the entire treatment, because so far little is known about why this reaction is taking place and how it can be avoided.

Changing this situation is the aim of the research association CHEMOPRÄVENT. The participating researchers from academia and industry for the first time will combine two laser imaging techniques in one device, which will then allow completely new insights into the chemical processes under the skin. Employing microscopic non-linear Raman spectroscopy and multi-photon imaging the new system will show the different cellular structures of the skin, but also enables a chemical analysis of these structures at the same time. This will enable doctors to trace the enrichment of anticancer drugs at certain points of the body and investigate this process. "Our biggest suspicion is that the chemotherapeutic drugs reach the skin via the sweat glands and therefore particularly accumulate at strongly perspiring tissue," says Prof. Jürgen Lademann, the project coordinator from the Charité University of Medicine in Berlin. His institute covers the medical effects on the skin caused by the application of anti-cancer drugs within the research association.

A total of five partners pull together in Chemoprävent. The Institute of Photonic Technology and the JenLab GmbH in Jena bring the microscopic and spectroscopic expertise necessary for biomedical diagnostics. The Toptica GmbH is developing a laser source for the use in clinical routine and the Bioskin GmbH in turn, will test antioxidants as a potential therapy and study the processes in the skin testing. The resulting device from the groups work, the fluorescence CARS Tomograph, can also be used in other applications for the studying of skin processes, for example to in reaction to cosmetics.

More information on the project can be found here: biophotonik.org (german language)

Round Robin Experiment

Raman spectroscopy has already proved its effectiveness in many cases for medical diagnostics such as for cancer, cardiovascular diseases and infections. However, there are no standards in the different working groups, e.g. for sample preparation, implementation of the Raman experiments, spectra pre-treatment, data evaluation, etc.In a round robin experiment, the required groundwork will take place in order to define standardised Raman measurement methods, which will be fundamental for establishing Raman spectroscopy for clinical diagnostic procedures.

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