Councillor of HNODIS (Jul 14 - Jul 16)
Officer and Secretary of HNODS (Sep 08-Sep 13)
Professor of Photodynamic Therapy, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam
Current Research Interests
Main research interest is to study the interaction between light and living tissue with the purpose of understanding, optimizing and further developing applications of light for diagnosis and treatment of disease. In contrast to other physical modalities used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, such as ionizing radiation, light has only shallow penetration in living tissue. This apparent limitation renders it excellently suitable for diagnosis and treatment of superficial disease. Fuelled by rapid developments in optoelectronics, lasers and fibre optic technology, these techniques can be applied in vivo, in a non-invasive or minimally invasive manner. Research activities comprise ex vivo and animal experiments, as well as clinical studies. Current research activities are centred around two strongly interrelated research lines: photodynamic therapy (PDT) and optical diagnostics (OD).
PDT Photodynamic therapy is a therapeutic technique that is based on the interaction of a light sensitive drug with light. PDT has been under study for several decades and is now an emerging treatment modality for a range of primarily malignant conditions. It is under clinical investigation for the treatment of cancers of head and neck, bladder, lung, prostate, esophagus, brain, and skin and several non-malignant indications. For age-related macula degeneration (AMD) and non-melanoma skin cancer PDT is now the gold standard therapy.
In the last decade PDT research in my group has focused on the mechanisms of action of different photosensitizes, light dosimetry, light fractionation and the development of clinical applications. Research activities comprised preclinical work on animal models, phantom studies, theory development, clinical experimentation and clinical pilot studies. Greatest achievements of the research group is the improvement of ALA-PDT for basal cell carcinoma to a level at which it outperforms surgery using light fractionation and the development of interstitial photodynamic therapy and a very successful approach for PDT of nasopharyngeal cancer.
OD Early attempts to use optical techniques for detecting cancer date from more than a century ago and were partly inspired by the fluorescent emission from the drugs used in early photodynamic therapy. The dramatic technological developments in optics and optoelectronics that have started a decade ago have enabled the use of a large number of new non invasive non destructive optical sampling techniques to probe inside the body. Sofar, my research group has a history in fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy as well as diffuse reflection spectroscopy. These techniques have been investigated for the diagnosis of cancer and are currently being used routinely in monitoring photodynamic therapy. Over the last few years Differential Pathlength Spectroscopy has been developed in my group, which is a special form of reflection spectroscopy. This technique has been used successfully in the bronchoscopic classification of early cancers, and is currently under investigation for diagnosis of cancer in the esophagus, the oral cavity, the brain and breast. A spin off company has been set up to enable further commercialization of this technology. In collaboration with Utrecht University we are developing a new in vivo microscopic technique: Non-linear Spectral Imaging.