A pilot study presented at the 30th European Association of Dermatology and Venerology (EADV) Congress shows the potential of a novel, coin-sized prototype photodynamic therapy (PDT) device to treat skin cancer at home and with reduced pain.
Fifteen BCC patients took part in the pilot study at Amaral Carvalho Hospital, together with Sao Carlos Institute of Physics, in Sao Paulo State, Brazil. The first PDT session was performed at the hospital where a 20% methyl aminolevulinate cream was applied to the BCC lesion, which was then illuminated for 20 min with a commercial red light LED device.
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Immediately after the first illumination, a light layer of cream was applied and the portable irradiation device was fixed to the skin using medical adhesive tape. The patient was then sent home and advised to turn on the illumination after 1.5 hr and turn it off after 2 hr. Pain was assessed every 3 min during the hospital PDT treatment session and self-reported every 20 min during at-home treatment, on a numerical scale from 0 to 10. The median score values were compared between hospital and home treatments.
According to the study, histological analysis revealed the condition's clearance at 30 days after at-home PDT was 86.67%, which is similar to standard PDT treatment. Furthermore, the pain score was significantly lower for at-home PDT, self-reported by patients as a "1" for the first three measures and a "0" for the four that followed. During hospital treatment, ratings for pain were ranked "3-4," suggesting that a more comfortable treatment with less pain is possible.
Ana Gabriela Salvio, lead author of the study, commented: “The importance of a portable PDT device is crucial in its country of origin, Brazil, where many patients need to travel more than 300 km to receive specialized dermatological treatment. However, the global pandemic accelerated the need to develop this at-home treatment element, which has the potential to impact the treatment of BCC internationally.”
She added, “Patients reporting much lower levels of pain from the at-home treatment is really encouraging, especially because it doesn’t come at the cost of efficacy.” Following the success of the pilot study, a clinical trial of more than 200 participants has been approved. The new portable irradiation device is also in the process of being patented.
“The fight against skin cancer is an important priority for the EADV,” shares Marie-Aleth Richard, EADV Board Member and Professor at the University Hospital of La Timone, Marseille, “The findings of this breakthrough pilot study present a new, exciting way of delivering cancer therapies for home treatment, with the potential to transform how BCC is treated globally. This is of course only possible after confirmation of both BCC diagnosis and PDT treatment indication.”
While this study was not directly connected to cosmetics or typical skin care, it provides a promising example of the potential for devices to deliver desired benefits to skin in a portable, accessible format. Furthermore, cosmetics and personal care often look to the medical and pharma industris for inspiration; time will tell if the technology transfers.
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