Biophotonics for Therapeutics, Diagnostics and Analytics: Challenges and Opportunities, with Emphasis on Cancer

The convergence of optical and life sciences in the emerging field of biophotonics provides many new options for detecting and treating cancer and pre-cancer, as well as new laboratory-based tools for pre-clinical research. These will be illustrated by specific examples. In therapeutics, photodynamic therapy using light-activated drugs will be illustrated by studies in brain, prostate and bone cancer, as well as by projects in treating neovascular diseases and localized infection. In diagnosis, the major challenge of detecting early cancer in the gastrointestinal tract will be used to demonstrate a wide range of biophotonic techniques: fluorescence, diffuse reflectance, Raman scattering and optical coherence tomography. Current work on oral and breast cancer will also be presented. Photo-analytics will be illustrated by large-area confocal microscopy. Each of these domains can potentially be enhanced through convergence with nanotechnology, and examples will include recent work on nanoparticle-enabled photodynamic therapy and endoscopic diagnosis, as well as the use of quantum dots for multispectral digital pathology. The status of biophotonics in Canada will be summarized, as will new initiatives in international cooperation in biophotonics research, education and commercialization.