From 2015-2020 we researched the potential of photoswitchable cytostatics to be used by long-term systemic application as tumour-localisable cancer therapeutics in adult mouse models, as the CytoSwitch translational project (funded by an EXIST-Forschungstransfer grant of the BMWi, and the Bavarian FLÜGGE program).
Project Concept: Treatment with cytotoxic/cytostatic drugs like paclitaxel, doxorubicin or cisplatin is the major method of cancer chemotherapy. Despite its success in treating some cancer types (pre- and post-surgery), chemotherapy causes strong systemic side-effects. Weaker patient populations (children, the elderly, those with pre-existing medical conditions) are often unable to tolerate such side-effects and may not be able to receive treatment; and even stronger patients may only be able to tolerate drug dosages that are insufficient to ensure cancer eradication.
Project Work and Outcomes: The CytoSwitch project tested the feasibility of using photoswitchable antimitotics as mechanistically defined chemotherapeutics that can be targeted precisely to tumours by local activation with light, thereby sparing healthy tissues from side-effects. The project work covered electronics, light delivery optics, medicinal chemistry, and tumour biology, to experimentally assess the requirements for successful photopharmaceutical drugs directly in murine cancer models. This involves balancing parameters such as wavelength response, activated-state halflife, and drug as well as photoswitch scaffold ADME-PK/PD, to test novel classes of cancer chemotherapy candidates. Results will be published in 2021.