Scientists in many medical research fields, from cancer to arthritis to obesity, share a common goal of providing drugs only in a way that targets cells in need of treatment,media New Atlas reported. And now an international research team’s breakthrough has offered hope for a new, targeted approach to regenerative medicine. The team showed how violet light turns on new drug “switches” in tiny cell populations to promote the growth of highly selective areas.
The study was carried out by scientists at the University of Jena in Germany and the University of Munich, who worked with researchers from the University of New York to explore new possibilities in the field of photopharmacology. This refers to the concept of turning drugs on and off through light, and the team hopes to do so using a key structural protein in the cell called the actin.
“So far, there are no drugs for actin because it is widely available in the human body, for example in large numbers of muscles,” explains Professor Hans-Dieter Arndt of the University of Jena. “As a result, such substances have little purpose. However, our new compounds only active lyinthes in areas where cells are exposed to proper light. “
The team made the breakthrough by first synthesizing a drug that naturally hardens the actin. After experimenting with the molecule in the lab, the team came up with a variant that changed its structure when exposed to purple light, increasing the stability of cells. This version of the molecule can then be restored to its natural structure and form by being exposed to green light.
In further lab experiments, the team showed how the molecule is absorbed by cells and then precisely controls their survivability and fluidity by exposure to purple light, and how they communicate with the cell ‘skeleton’ (the structure that helps cells maintain shape and tissue).
The team says the technique could be used to selectively control a target individual cell with an accuracy of as little as 10 microns. They call the new drug Optojasp and believe it could be used to treat a variety of diseases related to regenerative medicine.
“This method could be used in the future to treat diseases in the eyes or skin, which are organs that are easily exposed to light,” Arndt said. “This technique may also be of interest in the field of neuroregeneration. The purpose here is usually to encourage some nerve cells to take precedence over other nerve cells to grow. “
The study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.