Bounties attract serious brainpower to the challenge.
The idea is to flood tumors with oxygen produced by cyanobacteria and at the same time use ROS-producing chemotherapeutics like platinum-based drugs.
This session was inspired by the fact that a low oxygen environment is often related to the more resistant and aggressive tumor types. How?
The abnormalities in the tumor cells and tissues often lead to lower oxygenation of the tumor environment. Coupled with high metabolism and proliferation, this leads to hypoxia (disrupted oxygen balance - low influx and high demand for oxygen). It is believed that hypoxia promotes more resistant and aberrantly proliferating tumorigenic phenotypes due to the struggle to survive (lack of energy due to glycolisis), increased angiogenesis and spread (metastasis) .
Up-to-Date Oxygen Therapies
Whole body oxygen flood by ozone or hyperbaric oxygen therapy - there are no clear evidence of the general safety (the harm for the whole body) and efficiency.
Local oxyigen flood - oxygen delivery systems like oxygen nanoshuttles ; not proven efficient
The first thing would be to diagnose and determine the type of cancer in patients. Patients with solid tumors stage 3 and 4 (tumor spread) would be chosen for this co-treatment. Besides the regular therapy (platinum-based or similar chemotherapy), patients would get a dose of cyanobacteria and nanoparticles dissolved in saline, locally administered at the tumor site. The tumor would then be locally irradiated by near-infrared light to start up the cyanobacteria oxygen production.
If the lack of oxygen potentiates mutagenic growth, angiogenesis and spread, this way we should keep it local and less agressive and consequently, more responsive to the first line therapy. The main advantage compared to the other local one-time oxygen therapies would be the prolonged local oxygen production due to the photosynthesis of cyanobacteria.
What type of cancer would benefit the most from oxygen therapy?
In what stage would local oxygen therapy be the most effective?
What parameters should we use to measure the effect of this therapy?
It seems to me that the idea would be very complicated to realize in practice. First - cyanobacteria don't naturally live inside other organisms, therefore it's highly unlikely that they would survive inside the physiological medium of the human body. Being photosynthetic they need direct light for their survival. Even though they can tolerate low levels of light, like at the bottom of the water body, near-infrared light won't do it, because it can't effectively penetrate tissues, it will be converted into heat at the surface of the body. Even if some of it will penetrate deeper in the form of electromagnetic radiation, I'm guessing this would be far from enough of what's required to cause and maintain photosynthesis.
But even if you managed to somehow "light them up" inside the body, I doubt they would survive there in the first place, because of the physiological medium totally unfavorable for them - the specific salinity, the pH, the ferments, and other bioactive chemicals that can potentially damage them, not to mention they need sufficient amounts of CO2 for photosynthesis. Just delivering localized oxygen to the tumor area sounds much much easier.