Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
An Ontario Veterinary College research team will investigate using porphysome nanotechnology and light therapy to treat oral squamous cell carcinoma in cats.
“Oral squamous cell carcinoma is a devastating disease in cats with limited treatment options. This study has the potential to unlock a new nonsurgical option for cats with the condition,” said Michelle Oblak, DVM, DVSc, DACVS, who will lead the research team.
The disease is the most common oral tumor in cats, accounting for 70% to 80% of all oral tumors.
Porphysomes are organic nanoparticles with intrinsic multimodal photonic properties that efficiently absorb and convert light energy to heat, making them ideal candidates for photothermal therapy.
The tumors typically arise in the sublingual areas, lips, maxilla and mandible and can be locally aggressive and cause extensive tissue damage, including invading the adjacent bone. Surgical excision is considered the best approach, but complete removal can be difficult because tumors are often in advanced stages when detected. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments offer only temporary relief. Most affected cats live no longer than three months.
Researchers using a special light source can track the nanoparticles’ fluorescent glow, and the porphysomes make tissues more vulnerable to damage from laser light. A near-infrared laser light beam directed through a nanofiber activates the porphysome, destroying the cancerous tissue.
“There’s a lot of interest in this as a nonsurgical option,” Dr. Oblak said. “This could really revolutionize many different aspects of cancer treatment and diagnosis.”
Morris Animal Foundation is funding the study with Blue Buffalo and the Canadian company Pet Valu.
“If successful, this new treatment could have a major impact on the lives of hundreds of cats diagnosed with this aggressive tumor each year,” said Kathy Tietje, Ph.D., MBA, the vice president of scientific operations at Morris Animal Foundation.