Roswell Park Licenses Photodynamic Technology on a Global Scale

Friday, October 9, 2009

BUFFALO, NY - Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) has licensed its photodynamic therapy (PDT) technology to pharmaceutical companies in India and China, reports Richard Matner, PhD, MBA, Director of RPCI's Technology Transfer Office.

PDT, a treatment that uses intense doses of red light to activate photosensitive, cancer-killing drugs, was pioneered by RPCI scientist Thomas J. Dougherty, Chief Emeritus of the Photodynamic Therapy Center. The licensing agreements cover technology that was developed by Dr. Dougherty and his RPCI colleague Ravindra Pandey, PhD, Distinguished Member of Clinical Research, in the Cell Stress Biology Department.

PDT is used to treat skin, lung and esophageal cancers, as well as other medical conditions. A photosensitive compound is either applied directly to the skin or injected intravenously. Healthy cells shed the compound within a few days, but it remains heavily concentrated in cancer cells. The tumor is then exposed to the red light, which causes the photosensitive compound to selectively kill the cancerous cells.

RPCI’s Technology Transfer Office was created to commercialize RPCI-generated discoveries, with profits reinvested in cancer research at the Institute. Matner’s job is to work with researchers and clinicians at RPCI to identify discoveries that have commercial potential and to market that potential to prospective business partners.

At a time of growing concern about the overseas transfer of American jobs and resources, RPCI is helping to reverse the trend through agreements in which the Institute garners licensing fees and royalties from other countries for rights to its products and technologies. Over the last two decades, licensing and royalty fees for PDT alone have generated millions of dollars to support RPCI research, said Dr. Matner.

Research at RPCI focuses almost exclusively on cancer, and out of that research have come inventions that are useful to the world as a whole. Traditionally, institutes like RPCI will patent their research results and then license the patents to someone else, for example, a pharmaceutical company, which then manufactures and sells a product based on the patent. The company takes the lion’s share of the profits, and the Institute receives a small royalty. But all that is changing, says Matner, as more researchers bring their inventions to RPCI’s Tech Transfer Office for assistance with commercialization. “International commercialization can be especially beneficial to RPCI as we extend our associations to Asian pharmaceutical companies,” said Matner. “Cancer therapies have no national boundaries, so we think globally when it comes to licensing our discoveries. That strategy promises better medical care for people around the world, as well as an economic return that can drive future discoveries at RPCI.”

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email


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Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager