Sarcomas are a rare type of cancer that often spread only to the lung. While surgery and chemotherapy are standard treatments, recurrence of cancer occurs in most patients resulting in poor survival and prognosis. Accordingly, our group has developed a platform for targeted lung treatment, called In Vivo Lung Perfusion (IVLP). IVLP involves diverting the circulation of the lung to an external circuit to provide a flexible treatment environment. Photodynamic therapy is an exciting modality that can harness this flexibility. In photodynamic therapy, a drug, called a photosensitizer, is activated by light to kill nearby cancer cells. Photodynamic therapy has traditionally been limited by the ability to deliver light to organs, because blood absorbs most of the light needed to activate the photosensitizer drug. However, IVLP provides a solution to this problem because it removes blood from the lung and instead circulates a colorless preservation fluid that allows much greater light penetration than has ever been achievable before.
Our current ongoing project will explore using photodynamic therapy during IVLP to treat sarcoma cancers that have spread to the lung. To achieve this, light penetration in the lung needs to be known to be able to control how strong the treatment is delivered. Similarly, the effectiveness of the drug in killing tumors when activated by light also needs to be studied. Together, based on these early steps, an effective treatment protocol can subsequently be produced and tested. Overall, this study aims to open an innovative treatment modality to improve survival of patients suffering from sarcoma.