The National Cancer Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health) awarded a ten million dollar grant toRoswell Park Cancer Institute for work on photodynamic therapy (PDT) research. The main focus of the grant funding will be on therapy for head and neck cancers.

Roswell Park developed PDT in the 1970s by combining light-sensitizing drugs with laser light. PDT utilizes photosensitizers which destroy cancer cells but not healthy cells. The treatment includes the administration of a non-toxic drug that is initially absorbed by all cells, but then settles/accumulates in tumor cells. Then a laser light is applied, which activates the drug and kills the cancer cells but spares healthy cells. Since the therapy does not induce treatment resistance or result in cumulative toxicity, it can be repeated multiple times to increase effectiveness.

Roswell Park has been at the forefront of advancements in PDT, and this grant will allow for further expansion of the use of this treatment. As Dr. Gollnick stated in Roswell Park’s press release, it is his hope that “successful completion of this program will also move PDT from a niche therapy to a standard of care treatment for these malignancies.”

PDT is currently offered as a treatment for early endobronchial non-small cell lung cancer, advanced endobronchial lung tumors, esophageal cancer, Barrett’s esophagus with high-grade dysplasia, mouth cancer, breast cancer and skin cancer. This new funding will allow Roswell Park to research further uses of the therapy.

Railroad workers who have been exposed to asbestos or diesel exhaust are at an increased risk of cancer. If you or a loved one are a current or former railroad worker diagnosed with cancer, please contact us to discuss your legal rights with an experienced railroad injury lawyer.