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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 00:03 GMT
Hope over new 'skin cancer patch'
Professor Ifor Samuel with the new "sticking plaster" skin cancer device
Professor Ifor Samuel with the new "sticking plaster" skin cancer device
A portable light source for treating common skin cancers has been developed by two Scottish scientists.

The light-emitting "sticking plaster", powered by a small battery pack, could allow patients to be treated in GP surgeries or at home.

Currently, large, intense light sources in hospitals are used to activate anti-cancer creams applied to the skin.

The experts, from St Andrews University and Dundee's Ninewells Hospital, now hope to commercialise their invention.

Professor Ifor Samuel said the technology was an adaptation of photodynamic therapy treatment (PDT), which required skin cancer patients to lie under a light for several hours in a special cubicle.

"By adapting the latest technology to an existing treatment method, we have developed a compact light source for treating common skin cancers," he said.

The light-emitting patch is a low-cost, portable and convenient method of treatment
Prof James Ferguson

The metallic plaster contains its own light source - an organic light-emitting diode.

Light is emitted when a low voltage electric current passes through it.

Professor James Ferguson, head of the photobiology unit at Ninewells Hospital, said: "Our initial pilot trials have already shown its effectiveness and we find patients requesting this treatment over conventional methods."

Like other forms of PDT, the "sticking plaster" treatment is only suitable for less serious non-melanoma cancers near the surface of the skin.

More dangerous, melanoma skin cancer has to be treated with surgery, radiotherapy and sometimes chemotherapy.

The researchers said the technology could also be used for cosmetic anti-ageing treatments, and to treat conditions such as acne.

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