LightOx, a company developing novel therapeutic treatments, including light-activated chemotherapy for early-stage oral cancer, is making new breakthroughs in the treatment of early-stage mouth cancers after receiving funding from Analysis for Innovators (A4I), a grant funding programme run by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

LightOx, headquartered in Newcastle upon Tyne, is developing new light-activated chemotherapy for the treatment of early-stage oral cancer. The light-activated solution is the first of its kind in the UK and is currently completing pre-clinical testing.

The company’s new class of light-activated chemotherapy should be administered by dentists or trained clinicians, who will apply a gel to the affected area and activate the drug with light. The ground-breaking treatment is quick, simple and involves fewer side effects than surgery. The non-invasive treatment significantly improves the overall patient experience.

The technology has the potential to revolutionise light-based therapeutic markets globally. But the company lacked the required cutting-edge R&D and expertise to explore its potential further, so it sought A4I’s assistance.

Simon Yarwood, Knowledge Transfer Manager – Industrial Technologies, A4I, said: “The main mission of A4I is to allow companies to ramp up their productivity and competitiveness by solving hard technical analysis problems. We introduce them to some unique partner organisations that have world class skills and cutting-edge facilities.”

“The programme provided funded access to cutting-edge R&D and expertise to accelerate LightOx’s capacity to raise the bar on every aspect of the operations and product development. We are seeing many similar success stories along the same lines with innovators across the UK in fields of biomanufacturing and manufacturing across sectors.”

A4I led LightOx to Central Laser Facility (CLF), an institution of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, near Oxford, and one of the world’s leading laser facilities, providing the LightOx team with access to an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art laser technology and their expertise.

Prof. Carrie Ambler, Chief Scientific Officer at LightOx, said: “Our new technologies fundamentally change the way in which light-based therapies are delivered to the patient. The A4I partnership has empowered us to transform our business and enabled us to look at problems and develop solutions in a new way.

“When one of our customers demonstrated our compounds were capable of something called two photon absorptionwe had neither the equipment nor expertise to be able to study that exciting process. But with the help of CLF, we gained new insights into how to further develop these products, how to make them better, how to make them different and most importantly – how to make them more suited for different applications.”

The scientists at CLF collaborated with LightOx to bring different backgrounds and knowledge towards a common cause – to improve on the product. CLF enabled LightOx to capture new measurements, something that was not possible without the specialist equipment.

Prof. Ambler added: “The collaboration with A4I and CLF helped us characterise the photo-physical properties of our products on market. This information yielded new product applications that we can share with our customers as well as opening new commercial avenues.”

LightOx’s product is already on the market and is currently being tested in hospitals and universities. Recently, the company received a significant re-order from Merck to restock their supply.

The company specialises in cell imaging, detection, tracking and tagging of bioactive molecules through fluorescence and Raman imaging techniques.

A4I has been running since 2016 and brings together nine national centres of excellence in measurement, tackling challenges affecting existing processes, products or services.

Across nine rounds of funding, it has supported more than 250 companies resulting in over £600M of benefit for those businesses, including increased productivity and turnover, reduced waste, and the creation of new and upskilled jobs.

The programme helps businesses access cutting-edge R&D and expertise of skills and equipment at nine national measurement centres across the country whilst offering grant funding for some or all of the project costs.

The 10th round is underway, to learn more about how A4I can help your business and to read more success stories from the programme, visit