Roswell Park Licenses Photodynamic Technology on a Global Scale

Friday, October 9, 2009

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

PDT, a treatment that uses intense doses of red light to activate photosensitive, cancer-killing drugs, was pioneered by Roswell Park scientist Thomas J. Dougherty, Chief Emeritus of the Photodynamic Therapy Center. The licensing agreements cover technology that was developed by Dr. Dougherty and his Roswell Park 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.

Roswell Park’s Technology Transfer Office was created to commercialize Roswell Park-generated discoveries, with profits reinvested in cancer research at the Institute. Matner’s job is to work with researchers and clinicians at Roswell Park 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, Roswell Park 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 Roswell Park research, said Dr. Matner.

Research at Roswell Park 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 Roswell Park 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 Roswell Park’s Tech Transfer Office for assistance with commercialization. “International commercialization can be especially beneficial to Roswell Park 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 Roswell Park.”

The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Roswell Park, 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 Roswell Park’s website at, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email


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Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager