Photocure wins grant to develop drug, light source for cervical cancer therapy

FEBRUARY 17, 2009--The BIA program of the Norwegian Research Counsel (NFR) has awarded Photocure ASA (Oslo, Norway) 4.3 million Norway Kroner (~$0.6 million) over a period of three years to fund "Development of a drug and light source for photodynamic therapy (PDT) of precancerous lesions of the cervix." The BIA program supports highly innovative projects that create value to both the company and society.

Photocure plans to develop a product for treatment of abnormal cervical cells caused by persistent virus infection (human papillomavirus, HPV), which can develop into cervical cancer if not treated in time. According to Photocure, today's surgical therapy increases the risk of bleeding, infections and preterm labor in later pregnancies--and these are avoided with the use of PDT. The PDT technology also has potential use in treatment of virus infections with mild cervical abnormalities.

The BIA funding will enable Photocure to develop a patented combination product, Cevira, which promises to significantly simplify the PDT procedure. The research project will use existing knowledge that Photocure acquired during previous development work and investigational clinical studies.

"The support gives financial backing in a critical phase of the Cevira project," says Dr. Kjetil Hestdal, President and CEO of Photocure. "The BIA program is important for innovative projects like Cevira, with a high market potential, to succeed. We are pleased that a competent third party like NFR shares our view that photodynamic therapy is an important part of medical technology for the future."

This past summer, the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Photocure's Metvixia cream, in combination with its Aktilite CL128 LED-based narrow band (630 nm) red light technology device, for the treatment of actinic keratosis (AK). AK is the most common pre-cancerous skin lesion, and affects more than 10 million Americans on sun-exposed areas. AK can develop into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), is an aggressive type of cancer that grows invasively into deeper layers of the skin and can spread and form metastases.

Photocure ASA is listed on Oslo Stock Exchange. The company develops and sells pharmaceuticals and medical devices for the treatment and diagnosis of different types of cancer. The products are based on proprietary photodynamic technologies, targeting specific dermatology and oncology markets.

More information:
Photocure ASA

Posted by Barbara G. Goode, barbarag@pennwell.com, for BioOptics World.

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