Photocure shines a light to fight cancer
Light activates drugs at the right place and time
John Erik Stacy 21 Jan 2008
Photocure is based on a bright idea: use light to activate cancer drugs. The principal, called photodynamic therapy, alters a chemical in cancer cells while leaving the same chemical unchanged in surrounding cells. Photodynamic therapy is a two-step process involving the application of a photosensitive drug, followed by controlled exposure to a selective light source, which activates the drug and destroys the diseased cells. Photocure is also employing its photodynamic technology to develop products for the diagnosis of diseases, a process known as photodynamic diagnosis, where the diseased cells are detected by fluorescence.
One company product Metvix® uses photodynamic therapy and was approved by the FDA in 2004. Metvix was developed as a treatment for pre-cancerous skin lesions (actinic keratosis) and skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma) and is marketed by Galderma. Another product, Hexvix®, is currently in clinical trial in the US and is marketed in Europe by GE Healthcare. By introducing tumor fluorescence, Hexvix aids diagnosis of bladder cancer.
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