LightOx wins Innovate UK’s flagship Biomedical Catalyst Grant

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 06 June 2023

LightOx announces today that it has been awarded a £1.1m project grant from InnovateUK, for the development of its light activated drug LXD191 to treat oral cancer patients.

LightOx will work with the clinical team at the Liverpool Head and Neck Centre, University of Liverpool – Molecular and Clinical Cancer Medicine, and Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

LightOx were awarded the grant to formulate and manufacture their leading drug compound that can be used to treat oral cancer patients and pre-cancerous lesions that are detected in clinic. The LightOx team will work closely with partners to deliver a “chair-side” treatment for patients suffering from early-stage cancers. The drug is applied topically to the cancerous cells and activated with a specific light source to kill the cancerous cells in the mouth.

The Biomedical Catalyst is a leading programme of public funding by the UK government awarded through Innovate UK. The scheme is designed to deliver effective support for the leading life science companies arising in the UK, enabling businesses and clinical academics to speed-up the translation of scientific ideas into commercial reality.

Dr Sam Whitehouse, Chief Executive Officer of LightOx Ltd, said:

“We are delighted to have been successful in winning the BioMedical Catalyst grant from Innovate. This scheme is hugely competitive, and we have been through rigorous peer review and interviews over the last year in securing this grant. Our technologies, manufacturing processes, route to market and commercial development plans have all been scrutinised through the scheme and we are delighted that Innovate and the reviewers agree with our strategies. We feel that this is a great endorsement of LightOx’s world-class research in the area, and our plans to help oral cancer sufferers using new drugs and techniques. This is the next step in our journey to the wide-scale treatment of the disease where there is currently no medical intervention other than surgery.”

Prof Carrie Ambler, Chief Scientific Officer of LightOx Ltd, said:

“This BioMedical Catalyst grant allows LightOx to accelerate our drug development programme through the final pre-clinical phases whilst providing the financial capacity to work with our clinical and patient partners to develop a unique therapeutic solution for patients who suffer from mouth cancers and pre-cancers.”

Dr Caroline McCarthy and Professor Richard Shaw, at the Liverpool Head and Neck Centre say:

“We are delighted to be collaborating with LightOx on this project which seeks to develop a novel approach for the treatment of oral epithelial dysplasia.

This could provide a minimally invasive treatment option for patients at high risk of developing oral cancer. The prevention of oral cancer is a top priority, and we are committed to delivering world-class research for patient benefit.”

Dr Sam Whitehouse and Prof Carrie Ambler – LightOx
Dr Sam Whitehouse – LightOx
About LightOx Ltd

LightOx is a leading pharmaceutical development business based in the UK. Its primary objective is the development of LXD191, a light-activated drug species for the treatment of pre-cancerous and cancerous lesion in the oral cavity providing an alternative to surgery for patients where there is a significant unmet.

LightOx has used its unique light-activated drug molecule to develop therapies for early disease progression where the cancerous cells can be treated directly with a topical application of the product. LightOx’s lead candidate is LXD191 is protected by a broad IP portfolio, and will be tested in clinic with the Liverpool Head and Neck Centre team,

Further information on LightOx and its products can be found at


Dr Sam Whitehouse
Chief Executive Officer

Professor Carrie Ambler
Chief Scientific Officer
T. +44 7867 531 431


About Liverpool Head and Neck Cancer Centre

Head and neck cancer is a devastating disease and is a major healthcare problem in the Liverpool region. The Liverpool Head and Neck Centre (LHNC) combines internationally recognised clinical and research strengths to deliver research-led improvements in the quality and safety of patient care.

Co-located at the University of Liverpool, LHNC brings together a breadth of internationally recognised clinical and scientific expertise, providing a unique opportunity to make impactful differences for patients with diseases of the head and neck locally, nationally and internationally.

More specifically our aims are to enhance quality and safety of PATIENT care driven by world-leading translational research defined by contemporary clinical problems and to attract programmatic funding to strengthen our position as a world-leading academic institute for the treatment and translational research of head and neck disease.


Dr Caroline McCarthy
Clinical Lecturer in Oral Medicine


About the Biomedical Catalyst, InnovateUK

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. Innovate UK looks to drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.

Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard