Studies have shown that PDT can work as well as surgery or radiation therapy in treating certain kinds of cancers and pre-cancers. 

Light-based phototherapies have been used for a number of years with limited success due to side-effects including painful sensitivity, a lack of targeting and a lack of control in metabolising the photosensitiser before treatment.

  • PDT has no long-term side-effects
  • It is less invasive than surgery
  • Treatment is quick done as an outpatient
  • It can be very precisely targeted
  • Rapid wound recovery – little or no scarring
  • Costs substantially less than other treatments
  • Particularly effective in early stage cancers
  • Used in combination with other treatments
  • Does not compromise the immune system
  • Primes the immune system

Our Solution

LightOx’s new technologies fundamentally change the way in which light-based therapies are delivered to the patient through a new class of patented small molecule, fluorescent, drug-like compounds which overcome the limitations of current light-based treatments.

Particularly appropriate for the treatment of pre-cancerous and early stage oral cancer, this light-based therapeutic treatment minimises side-effects for patients and is less invasive than surgery.


Small compound size suitable for topical formulation
Cell penetration using small molecule drug


Directed light illuminates compromised area
Drug localises in compromised tissue and fluoresces at specific wavelength


The cancerous area is identified
There is minimal collateral damage


Increased light power on targeted area activates cell killing
Natural mechanism: ROS production leads to cell apoptosis

The treatment could be as simple as: dentist’s standard oral inspection, in-surgery treatment, repeated as necessary, with no problems associated with radiation therapy.

Following a screen of 125 off-patent drugs for effectiveness in primary tongue cancers, we developed new lead candidates by conjugating an HDAC inhibitor (HDACi), to a LightOx photosensitiser (LightOx191) to create a new, patent-pending class of therapeutic molecules.

The new HDACi-LightOx191 compounds retain efficacy in cancer cell targets and overall drug potency is increased greater than 100-fold in response to light treatment. Our new compounds have intrinsic light-activated, cell-killing properties with the potential to revolutionise light-based therapeutic applications.

Early identification of oral squamous cell carcinoma with instant treatment by inducing apoptosis (natural cell death) of the selected cells and tissues with minimal damage to healthy cells.

Important advancements include:

  1. Selective targeting for cancer cells as opposed to healthy cells
  2. Small molecular size for topical application
  3. Minimal off-target toxicity
  4. Dual diagnostic and treatment agents
  5. Non-toxic drugs in the absence of light activation at specific wavelengths
  6. Rapid take-up in cancer cells, reducing the exposure time to the drug and speeding up light-based treatment times
  7. Not activated by sunlight, minimising patient impact

By using light-based treatment, our new phototherapeutic drugs target the particular and desired body sites, using simple delivery systems, enabling rapid treatment and ensuing cell death of specific cells and tissues.

We are building relationships with clinicians working in the oral cancer and phototherapeutic areas to ensure that our ongoing development programme keeps patients at the heart of everything we do, while ensuring that our novel treatment ass are simple and user-friendly as possible for both clinicians to use and patients to experience.

We are actively seeking new partners in the area of Head and Neck cancer especially those who have experience working with Photodynamic Therapies.

Please get in touch to start a conversation with our team



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


Our technologies lie in the design and synthesis of new chemical entities, tailoring molecular properties to the required application.