Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Killing cancer cells with acid reflux

Date:
March 7, 2013
Source:
University of Central Florida
Summary:
A chemist has come up with a unique way to kill certain cancer cells -- give them acid reflux. Kevin Belfield used a special salt to make cancer cells more acidic -- similar to the way greasy foods cause acid reflux in some people. He used a light-activated, acid-generating molecule to make the cells more acidic when exposed to specific wavelengths of light, which in turn kills the bad cells. The surrounding healthy cells stay intact.

Kevin Belfield works in his lab at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
Credit: University of Central Florida

A University of Central Florida chemist has come up with a unique way to kill certain cancer cells -- give them acid reflux.

Chemistry professor Kevin Belfield used a special salt to make cancer cells more acidic -- similar to the way greasy foods cause acid reflux in some people. He used a light-activated, acid-generating molecule to make the cells more acidic when exposed to specific wavelengths of light, which in turn kills the bad cells. The surrounding healthy cells stay intact.

The technique is a simple way around a problem that has frustrated researchers for years. For photodynamic therapy (the special laser-light treatment) to work, cancer cells loaded with photosensitizers need oxygen to trigger the fatal reaction. But by their very nature, most cancer cells lack oxygen. Nonetheless, scientists were intent on making the photodynamic system work because it offers a way to target cancer cells deep within human tissue without causing a lot of collateral damage.

Instead of focusing on oxygen, Belfield flipped the problem around and found another way to poison the bad cells, while protecting the healthy ones.

"It's the first time we've found a way around the oxygen problem," Belfield said. "This work is truly ground breaking. It should eventually provide a therapeutic means to treat certain types of cancers with minimal side effects. It should also be a very useful tool for cell biologists and biomedical researchers. It could even find a place in treating other diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases."

His work was recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Belfield and his team at UCF used human colorectal carcinoma cells for the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes for Health. More research is needed to determine that there are no serious side affects in humans and whether the technique will work on a variety of cancers, but Belfield is optimistic.

"Predicting commercialization is difficult at best," he said. "But we are well situated to forge ahead."

So how did Belfield come up with such an "outside the box" approach? His other non-medical related research was the inspiration.

Belfield has developed a three-dimensional, optical data-storage system, which involves the use of acid generators. About six years ago he wondered if his approach could have applications in medical therapy.

"It took about five years to get someone in my research group interested to take on the unorthodox project," Belfield said. "But it seems to have paid off."

Other contributors to the research are Xiling Yue, Ciceron O. Yanez and Sheng Yao, researchers and students at UCF students focusing on chemistry or photonics.

Belfield is one of the pioneers in two-photon absorbing materials, two-photon photochemistry, and two-photon photophysics. His research spans a number of disciplines including organic, polymer, and physical chemistry, as well as optics, optical microscopy, and bioimaging. His research has potential applications in everything from the way people store data on DVDs to fighting cancer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Central Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xiling Yue, Ciceron O. Yanez, Sheng Yao, Kevin D. Belfield. Selective Cell Death by Photochemically Induced pH Imbalance in Cancer Cells. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013; 135 (6): 2112 DOI: 10.1021/ja3122312

Cite This Page:

University of Central Florida. "Killing cancer cells with acid reflux." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307110714.htm>.
University of Central Florida. (2013, March 7). Killing cancer cells with acid reflux. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307110714.htm
University of Central Florida. "Killing cancer cells with acid reflux." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307110714.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) New findings suggest men with a certain type of baldness at age 45 are 39 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins