JENA, Germany - The development of novel photodynamic laser therapy solutions is the aim of the newly founded start-up, BioLitec AG.

Photodynamic therapy uses a combination of light-sensitive substances and laser light. First, a photosensitive agent is delivered to a target tissue. To ensure accumulation and to enhance target specificity, the photosensitizer is coupled to a carrier, such as an antibody. The substance is then activated by irradiation with a laser.

Stefan Spaniol, research director of BioLitec and a specialist in photodynamic therapy, told BioWorld International it has a number of applications, from destroying tumors to speeding wound healing. Using endoscopic devices and optic fibers, it can be applied to the lung, digestive system, bladder and other areas, including the eyes and in open surgery.

"Photodynamic therapy is not new, but its full potential is far from being exploited, because an extensive know-how is needed both in technical device development and in biochemistry and molecular biology," Spaniol said. "We offer a unique combination of a laser delivery system and matching photosensitizers for different applications."

BioLitec, of Jena, will cooperate closely with CeramOptec Inc., of Longmeadow, Mass., a laser and fiber-optic products company founded in 1987 in Bonn, Germany. CeramOptec's president, Wolfgang Neuberger, was appointed chairman of BioLitec supervisory board.

"While the device development is already in an advanced stage, we need better and more efficient photosensitizers," Spaniol said. In collaboration with several Jena-based research institutes and clinics, BioLitec will investigate the immune and cell biology of photodynamic substances. "We want to know more about binding sites, mechanisms of action, suitable carriers, etc., so we will establish cell culture and animal systems and initiate clinical studies."

Armin Kaus, BioLitec's chairman, told BioWorld International the company would address four business areas: "permanent removal of body hair, cancer therapy, wound healing and periodontitis."

He said Jena was chosen as the location because of its optimal infrastructure in both medical and optics technology and in pharmaceutical know-how. The initial financing volume of DM8.5 million (US$4.6 million) will be collected from privately owned capital resources and from federal and state grants and loans.