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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK
Acne 'cure' device goes on trial
Prof Ken Board and Shaun Oxenham
Prof Ken Board and Shaun Oxenham are guiding Enfis
Backers of a pioneering treatment for acne say they are within sight of a breakthrough, as clinical trials get under way.

The Swansea-based team behind the "light pen" - which is made up of tiny Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) - believe it can dramatically improve the lives of millions of people.
LED devices, Enfis Ltd
The opto-electronic revolution has seen devices shrink in size

Enfis Ltd, based at Swansea's Technium Centre, is already signed up to supply the devices to a US firm which deals with skin equipment.

The inventors believe the trials will prove the pen can, not only kill off the bacteria in spots, but also prevent spots recurring for weeks or possibly months.

Enfis chief executive Shaun Oxenham said the devices will undergo a series of rigorous clinical trials at Imperial College, London - where penicillin was first discovered.

Every 18 months, the power of a semi-conductor doubles, while the cost of production reduces by 50%

Professor Gordon Moore

If the test, which are due to finish later in the autumn, prove successful, it is hoped production can begin in Llanelli later this year.

Enfis has been backed by Welsh billionaire Sir Terry Matthews - the man behind Wales' successful bid to host the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Sir Terry has invested 350,000 of venture capital money in the scheme which means he will profit in turn from Enfis' growing reputation.

The firm is in the process of patenting its technology and hopes to use its research work to tap into the lucrative automotive, industrial and medical markets.

The new generation of LEDs have the power and efficiency, for instance, to make an ordinary light bulb last 100,000 hours.
Prof Ken Board, Enfis
Prof Ken Board: 'Light pen offers hope'

Huge leaps recently in developing opto-electronics means Enfis has quickly managed to shrink the size of its devices, which use a powerful beam of light to kill off bacteria in spots.

Until now, the US firm signed up for the devices ICN Photonics, has been using giant lasers mounted on trolleys, costing $100,000 dollars each to kill off the bacteria.

'New lease of life'

Professor Ken Board, who co-founded Enfis, hopes the pens can be produced at high street prices, opening up a huge global market worth $8bn.

"This is a business opportunity the like of which I have not seen for a while," said Prof Board.

"People tell you the US business market is brutal, but I love it and I am in an environment that I am enjoying - I have found a new lease of life."

Growing reputation

Enfis is the cutting edge, commercial arm of the Swansea University, which has woken up to the potential talent of its students and staff.

A university study two years ago discovered that 45 past students had gone on to set up businesses which have amassed a combined value of $8bn - among them Sir Terry.

The college benefits by drawing on potentially lucrative equity from Enfis and other fledgling companies.

Technium centres are springing up across Wales on the back of successes such as Enfis.

Where I Live, South West Wales
See also:

18 Jul 00 | Health
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17 May 02 | Health
03 Nov 01 | Health
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