LightOx has developed a range of revolutionary tools for the interrogation, study and delivery across the therapeutics, diagnostics and life science tools industries.

LightOx tags can be imaged using fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy; our small molecules enable cell imaging, detection, tracking and tagging of bioactive molecules.

Our key offerings include:

Dynamic discovery tools for drugs, pro-drugs, peptides, proteins, RNA, DNA, aptamers
Small molecules with flexible linkers which do not affect existing bioactivity
Customised attachment method and linkers
Neuroactive retinoid probes leading to potential drugs

Targeted LightOx technologies result in cell death without damage to healthy cells.

These products are available for you to use in your laboratories now…


A Unique Range of Molecular Tools for use in Imaging, Therapeutics and Assay Development

These unique probes are smaller than any other commercially available fluorescent product. We offer the option of using our technologies as freely-moving probes that readily incorporate into cells or with a range of flexible linkers to give specificity to your unique applications and research needs.

Biological Probes

Imaging tools

LightOx probes represent a unique method for the delivery of fluorescent probes into cells. From simple staining, to targeted delivery, the unique properties of Lightox probes enables a multitude of cell staining capabilities

The small size of our probes means they bypass the traditional problems associated with fluorescent probes, providing facile delivery into the cell and minimal disruption to cell activity. Importantly, with powerful fluorescent properties, cellular activity is easy to study through imaging techniques.

We can provide bespoke consultancy and synthesis allowing for custom linkage of our fluorescent tag to your bio-molecules of choice.

Neuroactive small molecules


LightOx are at the forefront of retinoid research with a patented library of novel highly-potent small molecules with both genomic and non-genomic effects (“Dual-Activity Retinoids”) in neurodegenerative diseases. Retinoids are vitamin A-derived substances that play a crucial role in embryogenesis, development, programmed cell death and  other cellular functions. 

We are in the process of developing assays and models for neurodegenerative disease states including motor neurone and Alzheimer’s diseases and are looking for partners.


Light-based treatment


Light-based photo-therapies have been used for a number of years with limited success. Lightox’s new technologies fundamentally change the way in which these therapies can be delivered to the patient.

We can target the therapeutic action to particular body sites, using a simple delivery systems, enabling instant treatment and cell death of selected cells and tissues. Versatile delivery methods make a full range of photo-therapy applications possible.


Originally founded in August 2016, LightOx Ltd comes from over 8 years of research into novel compounds that have a unique function within our cells.

Collaborative research from Durham, Oxford and York Universities looking at the incorporation of vitamin-A like tags has resulted in the discovery of a new class of compound that is able to penetrate the cell and disrupt cell function causing cell death.

LightOx Ltd have been successful in securing non-diluting grants to further the product portfolio and investigate both new market possibilities and new product developments.

Angel investment has been secured to cover the initial commercialisation and rollout of the existing product range, with further funds being sought to accelerate this process over the coming 24 months.

Management Team

Dr Sam Whitehouse


View Biography

Dr Whitehouse is an experienced board member with executive experience in both innovation and service based companies.  Overseeing the development and commercialisation of world leading products for healthcare products and working with some of the world’s leading institutes, he has brought some of the very best innovations to market. As CEO and board member, he oversees the governance and strategy of the company, giving guidance and structure for the team.

With a background in chemistry and molecular biology, and experienced in bringing research to commercial realisation Dr Whitehouse will oversee product portfolio expansion, regulation and accreditation in our specified target markets, as well as securing the required funding and commercial deals.

Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry
Chartered Chemist
Patent – WO/2008/029082 US2012295824 – Hydrophilic surfaces for reducing friction forces.
Patent – US2015276709 –  Methods and Kit for Nucleic acid sequencing
Patent – PCT/US15/49519 – Sorbent materials for separating bio-macromolecules.
Patent – US62/220,601 – Novel automated printing device for the production and quantification of multi-functional electronic devices

Dr Carrie Ambler


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Dr Ambler is an Associate Professor in Biosciences at Durham University. She is highly accomplished in the areas using microscopic imaging in 2D and 3D human skin models to study tissue repair and regeneration.

She has numerous publications in international journals and has lectured in several national and international conferences.  Her role in the company will be to act as director, as well as direct research and development activities.

Relevant Publications
Epidermal Notch1 recruits RORγ(+) group 3 innate lymphoid cells to orchestrate normal skin repair, Z. Li , T. Hodgkinson, E.J. Gothard, S. Boroumand, R. Lamb, I. Cummins, P. Narang, A. Sawtell, J. Coles,  G. Leonov, A. Reboldi, C.D. Buckley, T. Cupedo, C. Siebel, A. Bayat , M.C. Coles, C.A Ambler,  Nature Communications 2016. 7:11394. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11394.
Modified methods for growing 3-D skin equivalents: an update. R. Lamb, C.A. Ambler, Methods Mol Biol. 2014.1195:171-82. doi: 10.1007/7651_2013_47.
Development of the Mouse Lower Dermis to Become the Dermal Fat Layer Occurs Independently of Adjacent Subcutaneous Fat and is Demarcated by Expression of FABP4. K. Wojciechowicz, K. Gledhill, C.A. Ambler, C. Manning and C.A.B Jahoda  PLoSOne, 2013. 8(3):e59811.
Keratinocytes isolated and propagated in serum-free, feeder-free culture conditions fail to form stratified epidermis in a reconstituted skin model. R.L. Lamb and C.A. Ambler, PLoSOne, 2013.  8(1):e52494.
Adult epidermal Notch activity recruits T cells and neural crest derived stromal cells into the dermis through upregulation of Jagged1. C.A. Ambler and F.M. Watt, Development. 2010 137: 3569-3579.

Prof Andy Whiting

Chemistry Director

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Prof Whiting is a Professor in Organic Chemistry at Durham University and has published over 200 peer reviewed papers, patents and reviews. He is expert on organic synthesis, methodology development, organic chemical design and synthesis and has devised fluorescent compounds as part of a project on developing synthetic retinoids as biological probes and for controlling cellular development.

He has published widely in international journals in the organic synthesis field and at its biology interface, and has worked jointly with the CEO for several years in this area. His role will be to direct the design, development and scale up of suitable chemical entities for use as Photokillers, working with the rest of the team to deliver products to market.

Relevant Publications
Neurogenesis in response to synthetic retinoids at different temporal scales, H. Haffez, T. Alkhatib, P. McCaffery, S. A. Przyborski, C. Redfern, A. Whiting, Mol. Neurobiol., 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s12035-017-0440-7, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12035-017-0440-7
A robust and reproducible human pluripotent stem cell derived model of neurite outgrowth in a three-dimensional culture system and its application to study neurite inhibition, K. E. Clarke, D. M. Tams, A. P. Henderson, M. F. Roger, A. Whiting and S. A. Przyborski, Neurochem. Int., 2017, 106, 74-84, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuint.2016.12.009.
Design and biological evaluation of synthetic retinoids: Probing length vs stability vs activity, G. Clemens, K. R. Flower, P. Gardner, A. P. Henderson, J. P. Knowles, T. B. Marder, A. Whiting and S. A. Przyborski, Mol. BioSyst., 2013, 3124-3134, DOI: 10.1039/C3MB70273A
The action of all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) and synthetic retinoid analogues (EC19 and EC23) on human pluripotent stem cells differentiation investigated using single cell infrared microspectroscopy, G. Clemens, K. R. Flower, A. P. Henderson, A. Whiting, S. A. Przyborski,  M. Jimenez-Hernandez, F. Ball, P. Bassan, G. Cinque and P. Gardner, Mol. BioSyst., 2013, 9, 677-692, DOI: 10.1039/C3MB25505K
Proteomic profiling of the stem cell response to retinoic acid and synthetic retinoid analogues: identification of major retinoid-inducible proteins, D. J. Maltman, V. B. Christie, J. C. Collings, S. Fenyk, T. B Marder, A. Whiting and S. A. Przyborski, Mol. BioSyst., 2009, 5, 458-471, DOI: 10.1039/b817912c
Synthesis and evaluation of selective stem cell differentiation agents based on synthetic retinoid derivatives, J. H. Barnard, C. E. Bridgens, A. Batsanov, E. B. Cartmell, V. B. Christie, J. C. Collings, T. B. Marder, S. Przyborski, C. P. F. Redfern and A. Whiting, Org. Biomol. Chem., 2008, 6, 3497-3507, DOI: 10.1039/b808574a

Prof Mark Coles

Immunology Director

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Prof Coles is Professor of Immunology at Oxford (publishing over 60 papers), and has been working in cellular and molecular immunology for 20 years. His group utilizes interdisciplinary approaches to understand the development and function of immune environments focusing on the role of stromal cell and immune cell interactions. He has key expertise in imaging (from single molecule to whole tissue imaging), experimental models and systems immunology.

He has developed model driven experimentation as an approach to understand how complex immune – work in health and disease. The Coles group has a strong record working with industry including funding and projects involving GSK, Roche, MedImmune/AstraZeneca and Unilever. He recently spun out SimOmics a company specialized in evidence based modelling and simulation of immune responses.

As chief scientific officer of SimOmics he has helped grow the financial success of the company, undertaking projects to support research and development at pharmaceutical companies. He has previously obtained patent protection for technology to differentiate human mesenchymal stem cells into lymphoid stroma. His role in the company is to support the development of specific cell targeting of the Photokiller-based technologies.

Relevant Publications
Model-Driven Experimentation: A New Approach to Understand Mechanisms of Tertiary Lymphoid Tissue Formation, Function, and Therapeutic Resolution. Butler JA, Cosgrove J, Alden K, Timmis J, Coles MC.
Front Immunol. 2017 Apr 4;7:658. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2016.00658. eCollection 2016.
Type 3 innate lymphoid cells maintain intestinal epithelial stem cells after tissue damage. Aparicio-Domingo P, Romera-Hernandez M, Karrich JJ, Cornelissen F, Papazian N, Lindenbergh-Kortleve DJ, Butler JA, Boon L, Coles MC, Samsom JN, Cupedo T. J Exp Med. 2015 Oct 19;212(11):1783-91. doi: 10.1084/jem.20150318.
ASPASIA: A toolkit for evaluating the effects of biological interventions on SBML model behaviour. Evans S, Alden K, Cucurull-Sanchez L, Larminie C, Coles MC, Kullberg MC, Timmis J. PLoS Comput Biol. 2017 Feb 3;13(2):e1005351. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005351.

Roy Valentine

Manufacturing Director

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Dr Valentine is CEO at High Force Research Ltd, with over 30 years-experience providing high quality, chemical synthesis and R&D service to the pharmaceutical, agrochemical and fine chemical industries.

His role is to support business development and commercialisation activities.

Relevant Publications
The molecular basis of the interactions between synthetic retinoic acid analogues and the retinoic acid receptors, H. Haffez, D. R. Chisholm, R. Valentine, E. Pohl, C. Redfern and A. Whiting, MedChemComm, 2017, 8, 578-592, DOI: 10.1039/C6MD00680A
Synthesis and applications of 1,4-disubstituted thiazoles derivatives as small molecule modulators of cellular development, G.-L. Zhou, D. M. Tams, T. B. Marder, R. Valentine, S. A. Przyborski and A. Whiting, Org. Biomol. Chem., 2013, 11, 2323-2334, DOI:10.1039/C3OB00005B


LightOx appoints experienced Non-Executive Directors and closes investment round

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 1st May 2019

Today LightOx Ltd, a North East based company announces the appointment of two new Non-Executive Directors to its board.


Mr Paul Lelieveld and Dr Frans van Dalen have joined the LightOx team and will support the development of new light-activated drugs and fluorescent probes being produced at the company. The two appointments bring a wealth of knowledge in the pharmaceutical development and regulatory pathways as well as the investment community in this area.

Further to this LightOx announces that it has successfully closed its current funding round with Dutch Biopharma specialists Meneldor acting as the lead. The investment will help the commercialisation of LightOx Probes for use in research markets, and the development of the new drugs being developed by the team for Head & Neck, and skin cancers.

“We are delighted to welcome Paul and Frans to the team. Their wealth of experience will help us to accelerate our activities in both commercialising our LightOx Probes to a global customer base, and our development of new therapeutics which are activated by light. We look forward to a long and productive future with our new NEDs.”

View Press Release

Our small molecules enable cell imaging, detection, tracking and tagging of bioactive molecules.

We welcome new partners and can provide NDA and MTA templates on request to cover your chosen interest.

Learn More

Licencing & Partnering

LightOx Ltd is an openly innovative company and actively partner with a number of companies and institutes across the globe

Partnering & Collaboration

LightOx Ltd is an openly innovative company and actively partner with a number of companies and institutes across the globe. We strongly encourage our partners to develop and collaborate in a number of application areas and are keen to expand our portfolio with like minded companies and research organisations.

Whether you are a large multinational looking for new avenues, or research based with an interesting idea, we are keen to discuss new directions and applications. Please feel free to get in touch and discuss with us your ideas.


LightOx have developed a number of compounds that are available to licence to help your needs. We are open minded in our approach to broadening these applications areas and so would love to hear from you if you think this can further your business goals.

Collaborating Researchers &
Existing partners

LightOx has extensive research partners around the globe currently using LightOx probes in their research. We are frequently asked for further developments on the probes and invite collaborative partners to push the limits of the applications currently under investigation.

If you believe these probes may aid your research or you are interested in discussing the potential use of the probes in your own research please contact us.

Investment Opportunities

LightOx is currently seeking new investors who can add value and capital to the operations of the business. We are keen to accelerate the route to market and expand the current product portfolio. Please contact us if you are interested in investment opportunities.


Notch signaling for preparing a population of cells in autologous cell replacement therapy.
Patent Number: WO2012035309-A1.

Synthetic retinoids (in cell killing)
Patent Number: GB1613712.7.

Fluorescent synthetic retinoids.
International Patent WO 2016/055800.


If you are interested in working with us or trying the probes for yourself please contact us.

We welcome new partners and can provide NDA and MTA templates on request to cover your chosen interest.