Shedding light on the reaction mechanism of PUVA light therapy for skin diseases

phys.org | 3/29/2012 | Staff
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The term "PUVA' stands for 'psoralen' and 'UV-A radiation.' Psoralens are natural plant-based compounds that can be extracted from umbelliferous plants such as giant hogweeds. Plant extracts containing psoralens were already used in Ancient Egypt for the treatment of skin diseases. Modern medical use began in the 1950s. From then on, they were applied for light-dependent treatment of skin diseases such as psoriasis and vitiligo. From the 1970s onwards, PUVA therapy was used to treat a type of skin cancer known as cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

Psoralens insert between the crucial building blocks (bases) of DNA, the hereditary molecule. When subjected to UV radiation, they bind to thymine—a specific DNA base—and thus cause irreversible damage to the hereditary molecule. This in turn triggers programmed cell death, ultimately destroying the diseased cell.

Researchers - Prof - Dr - Peter - Gilch

Researchers working with Prof. Dr. Peter Gilch from HHU's Institute of Physical Chemistry have now collaborated with Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Zinth's work group from LMU Munich to analyse the precise mechanism of this binding reaction. They used time-resolved laser spectroscopy for this purpose.

They found that—after...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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