Laser science for cancer research

Laserlab Europe provides outstanding laser-based cancer research performed by its members as well as a unique innovation potential for disruptive technologies. These activities showcase the role lasers play from understanding cancer to advanced diagnostics up to treatment modalities - on the level of fundamental or pre-clinical research up to the clinical application.

To understand cancer, laser-based multiparametric and multiscale imaging, microscopy and/or spectroscopy techniques enable imaging of molecules, cells, tissues and their dynamic processes. Laser-microbeams allow to investigate mechanisms of DNA damage and repair. High-power laser sources, on the other hand, drive plasma-based accelerators which provide electron and proton pulses with ultra-high dose rates and aid the investigation of dose-rate dependent effects on cancer and normal tissue irradiation in pre-clinical research.

Laser-based cancer diagnostics rely on a wide range of optical techniques - e.g. high-harmonic microscopy, optical coherence tomography, multi-spectral imaging, photoacoustic tomography - applied in situ (e.g. catheter-based, skin cancer) as well as on biopsy samples. The collected information on morphology, chemistry and/or functional aspects of the sampled tissue can aid the development of personalized medicine. Several diagnostic approaches developed by Laserlab researchers have been translated into clinical applications.

For treatment of cancer, photo-dynamic therapy is applied in clinical settings. Moreover, laserbased imaging techniques enable the understanding and qualification of photosensitizers for cancer treatment and help unravel mechanisms of cancer drugs, i.a. light-activated drugs (photopharmacology).

More than 20 Laserlab-Europe AISBL members are active in the field of laser-based cancer research and participate in this expert group.

For more information, please see the position paper of the expert group.