PhotoDynamic Therapy (PDT) is a protocol used to kill unwanted tumor or other abnormal cells. A light sensitive chemical is caused to migrate to the unwanted cells. At the appropriate time a special light is applied that triggers the chemical to create oxidants that kill the cells. PDT promises significant advantages – the protocol is relatively benign, and selectively kills the bad cells while sparing good cells. This protocol should be especially advantageous for NF. The bad cells are often in close vicinity or enmeshed with critical good cells (eg. brain or nerve cells); these circumstances often render surgery VERY high risk, or too dangerous to be an option.
Around the year 2000, Dr. Whelan and the research team demonstrated the advantages of PDT with 20 children who had terminal brain cancer, see PDT for Brain Cancer.
Detailed studies are required to tailor PDT for each application such as NF. The subset classes of tumors within the NF umbrella require additional tailoring. The current clinical studies are fine tuning PDT for surface cutaneous and subcutaneous tumors. Another NF subset class such as deeper sciatic nerve plexiform tumors, will require other specific tailoring. The knowledge gained for each application is invaluable to other classes of tumors, and the overall knowledge base.
For a more detailed and technical explanation of PDT, see the explanation on the American Cancer Society website.