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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 13:26 GMT
Acne light treatment on trial
Enfis worker Siang Pheng demonstrates the LED device
Hits the spot: The LED device gives a softer light than a laser
A form of light treatment for acne, which the manufacturers say is breaking new ground, is under going clinical trials at two Welsh hospitals.

The technology - billed as a "softer" alternative to laser treatment - is being used on 30 patients at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport.

The Swansea-based team behind the project also say they are close to signing a multi-million pound deal to put their device into production.

The company are to market the treatment solely for clinical use by doctors and nurses in hospital, although they may eventually make a derivative for use in spas.

Wales-born billionaire Sir Terry Matthews is investing in the development which uses advances in light-emitting diode (LED) technology, the basis of many modern bicycle lights.

Two types of device are being developed. A full-face light for used with eye goggles and a hand-held light "pen " for other areas.

What you have is a simple system that uses only light to "wash out" a problem
Dr Gareth Jones

The firm behind the development, Enfis, is based at the original technium in Swansea, a hi-tech innovation centre.

Their product is designed to treat mild and moderate acne cases, reducing the need for people to use strong steroid creams or have treatment with powerful lasers.

As well as the Welsh trials, one is also beginning next month in Germany at the University of Regensburg.

Electronics engineer, Dr Gareth Jones, from Neath, is one of the six-strong team of experts which is using the LED light to perform the same task as a laser treatment - to kill off the bacteria which can cause acne.

Full-face device

"What you have is a simple system that uses only light to "wash out" a problem," he said.

"It produces light in a very gentle manner and penetrates the skin. It is able to not only access the acne but also deeper within the tissue."

He said the LED light was much more powerful than that in a modern bicycle light but not as focused as a laser beam, so did not have the same risks for the eye.

Dr Jones said the system offered other benefits to acne sufferers.

"They don't have to put on any facial scrubs. It may avoid the use of toxic drugs or creams, which are not easy to apply."

'Stock market'

Enfis chief executive Shaun Oxenham said by the time the clinical trials ended in January, the firm hoped to have secured an export deal with a medical laser company.

The LED products would be manufactured by a Caldicot firm, part of Sir Terry Matthew's electronics manufacturing empire.

"We expect to sell hundreds of devices to hospitals, doctors and specialist clinics.

"If we achieve that, we hope to float the company on the stock market in 2006."

There are an estimated 14 million acne sufferers in Europe, with a similar number in the US.

Doctor 'stunned' by acne tests
27 Jan 03  |  Wales

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