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Historical Archive

LASER 2003: Thursday

26 Jun 2003

Visitors enjoy a reinactment of the first ever PDT experiments to celebrate the centenary of the technique’s discovery.

For some light relief from pounding the exhibit floor, delegates at the LASER show this week were treated to lunchtime demonstrations of pioneering cancer-killing experiments.

The demonstrations took the form of short reinactments of the first clinical trials of photodynamic therapy (PDT) which took place in Munich one hundred years ago.

In 1903, scientists in Germany and Denmark performed a series of trials with patients using Eosin and Erythrosine as photosensitisers.

A year later the Munich team led by Hermann von Tappeiner coined the phrase photodynamic therapy (PDT).

Photosensitisers are fluorescent compounds that gather preferentially in cancerous tissues. In PDT, light is used to activate the photosensitier, which then produces oxygen radicals that go on to destroy the cancerous cells.

Today, the technique is well known and photosensitisers are used to both treat and detect cancerous cells. For example, PDT has received approval to treat the wet form of age-related macular degeneration, lung cancer and basal cell carcinomas (the most common form of skin cancer).

Jacqueline Hewett is news reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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