Partnership to develop commercial applications for healthcare

Thursday 26 March 2015

The University of St Andrews has teamed up with a world-leading laser and photonics company to develop a number of new technologies with the potential to help in the detection and treatment of life threatening conditions such as cancer.

The commercial partnership with M Squared Lasers will release new techniques to aid medical research into cancer and Alzheimer’s and unlock new information about how the brain works.

The newly signed IPR Technology Transfer Agreement covers a broad portfolio of more than 100 patents, which researchers will use to develop commercial applications for the health sector. The suite of patents encompasses diverse biotechnology areas including microfluidics, particle fractionation and sorting, optical tweezing, cell poration, imaging and Raman spectroscopic analysis techniques.

Professor Kishan Dholakia from the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy said, “One key area we’ll be exploring is the use of light-scattering (Raman) which can be used in the fight against cancer by accurately distinguishing between normal and unhealthy cells and tissue. In a similar way, Raman coupled with the use of fluorescence techniques, may be used in the area of authentication of high value liquors and spirits.

“More broadly we’ll be looking to unlock new information about how the human brain works. Through the use of advanced compact imaging platforms, which minimise damage through laser exposure, we hope to highlight cellular processes that could lead to an improved understanding of neural networks and conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“And while we’re becoming more adept at developing lasers with higher specifications and quality, we still need to continually improve the way we characterise their performance, which is another area of research included in this suite of licensed technology.”

Playing into a multi-billion dollar sector, this deal is projected to bring seven figure returns to both the University of St Andrews and M Squared Lasers over the period of commercialisation of these technologies. Both parties are now looking to engage with approaches for applications of biophotonics technology from other companies in Scotland, the UK and internationally.

Commenting on the agreement Professor Dholakia said, “This is a very exciting technology transfer opportunity for the University’s biophotonics portfolio and stems from many years of interaction between M Squared Lasers and several Research Professors in the School of Physics and Astronomy. My researcher colleagues and I are looking forward to working with M Squared Lasers to ensure that exciting new products will be developed.”

Dr Graeme Malcolm OBE, CEO of M Squared Lasers said, “This new partnership presents the opportunity to match our existing knowledge with relevant academic research, something which we hope will lead to significant developments for the health sector. Taken together this has the potential to become an ‘all-round win’ situation, which will help to build Scotland’s reputation as a centre of excellence in this emerging sector.”



This Biophotonics Licence Agreement follows closely in the footsteps of three other such commercialisation agreements between the University of St Andrews and M Squared Lasers. Last year, the University of St Andrew’s licensed its ultrafast laser and fast pulse autocorrelation patents and further assigned its patent family of multiple strands of IPR in the areas of mid-Infrared Optical Parametric Oscillator and THz technologies, which are used in the company’s ‘Firefly’ Gas Imaging and security product ranges. The technology contained in the patents in the OPO and THz IPR portfolio arose from several high-value University research projects, which were undertaken over a 15-year period in the laboratories of Professor Malcolm Dunn in the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy and previously licensed to M Squared Lasers in early 2007.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 462108 or [email protected].

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