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Business & Economy

CPI collaborates with LightOx to develop skin and oral cancer therapy

A North East organisation supporting the development of new, innovative products has collaborated on a project to advance the progression of next generation cancer treatment.

CPI has worked with fellow North East company LightOx on light-based treatments capable of targeting the removal of skin and oral cancer cells.

CPI is supporting LightOx to develop a range of molecular tools for use in imaging, therapeutics and assay development. These unique chemical probes enable cell imaging, detection, tracking and tagging of bioactive molecules, with these tags imaged using fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy.

The technology is also able to target therapeutic action to particular body sites using a simple delivery system that enables instant treatment and cell death of selected cells and tissues without damage to healthy cells, minimising side-effects for patients.

CPI’s healthcare photonics team supported the progression of LightOx’s molecular technology through the optical analysis of LightOx’s fluorescent drugs, allowing greater understanding and informing of product development. Complementing this analysis, Durham University helped produce a prototype controllable, calibrated, light delivery system to allow LightOx to validate their new compounds.

LightOx is also now in a position where it has attracted further investment and is in the process of developing its products for clinical applications.

The project comes after the opening of CPI’s new National Healthcare Photonics Centre, based at NETPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham. The centre will support the scale-up and commercialisation of medical technology products by acting as a hub for businesses of all sizes and academic partners to work on innovative methods of diagnosing disease, imaging systems – including endoscopy – and light-based treatments.

Dr Tom Harvey, CPI’s healthcare photonics team lead, said: “Our new photonics centre provides companies such as LightOx with access to expert people, along with facilities and equipment dedicated to the development of photonics-based products for healthcare applications.”

Dr Carrie Ambler, LightOx chief scientific officer, said: “CPI provided LightOx with a first-generation light box that enabled us to select leading drug candidates to progress through the therapeutic development pipeline. Following successful selection, we now expect our lead candidates through the pre-clinical evaluation aiming for Phase 1 starting in 2020/2021.”

The collaboration between CPI and LightOx forms part of the Spotlight programme, which itself is a partnership between CPI and Durham University, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Providing support to SMEs in the County Durham area, Spotlight helps businesses with early stage proof-of-concept research and the scaling-up of photonics technologies to accelerate commercialisation into the healthcare sector.

Professor John Girkin, Durham University Spotlight and National Healthcare Photonics Centre lead, said: “Through this project, and the photonics centre, we are able to combine scientific expertise within Durham and CPI’s leading support mechanisms to help a wide range of companies reach their full potential.”