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Light Activates Cancer Drug

Photonics.com
Nov 2008
ÖREBRO, Sweden, Nov. 24, 2008 -- A Swedish research team has developed a light-activated drug as an easy and inexpensive way to treat skin cancer in that country.

The new drug, developed by researcher Leif Eriksson's team at Örebro University, is based on the use of photodynamic therapy in cancer treatment. Certain chemical reactions that occur in the cells are activated by light and effectively kill cancer cells.

With this method, a majority of the some 30,000 new cases of skin cancer discovered each year in Sweden alone could be treated quickly, simply, and cost effectively, the researchers said. This is also true for pre-stages of skin cancer, so-called actinic keratosis.

Eriksson's drug research has grown out of the Örebro Life Science Center (OLSC), an interdisciplinary, internationally acclaimed research node at Örebro University. Research on new forms of treatment for skin tumors is also being conducted in collaboration with associate professor Lennart Löfgren at the Center for Head and Neck Oncology at Örebro University Hospital.

"Our drug, and the new treatment concept we are developing together with researchers in Belfast, has tremendous potential. In the coming year we will also see further patents as a direct result of the collaboration with other research teams within the OLSC, including treatments for atherosclerosis and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatism," said Eriksson, professor of biophysical and theoretical chemistry at Örebro University.

The development of new drugs is being carried out with the aid of advanced computer modeling – a method that has proven to be highly successful.

“We provide the expertise in the theoretical description of new drugs. In our research we aim to describe at a detailed level what they should look like, what properties they should have to match the right targets in the body, what happens if we alter the molecules in different ways, etc. We then put this together through collaboration with experimental or clinically active research teams within OLSC and at the hospital, which makes the research exciting and dynamic,” Eriksson said.

The researchers have received about 4 million SEK (about $495,000) from government research financiers, the Swedish Research Council and Vinnova to further develop and commercialize the method.

“It’s extremely gratifying that two of the most important research financiers in Sweden so actively support our research,” Eriksson said.

For more information, visit: www.oru.se


GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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