Growing Demand for Biophotonics in Life Science Research and Diagnostics

Published Date : Feb 17, 2016

Biophotonics refers to a combination of biology and photonics – the science of the generation, detection, and manipulation of photons. In simpler words, biophotonics is the application as well as the development of various optical techniques to be used in the study of tissues, biological molecules, and cells, and in imaging. Over the past few years, the biophotonics market has grown substantially owing to its surging application in the field of research, environmental science, medicine, and agriculture. The growing demand for quality health care across the globe is also a key factor driving the biophotonics market. 

Therapeutics: Recently approved as a new treatment modality for a number of early stage cancers and for palliative care as well, photodynamic therapy is performed by systematically administering a non-toxic drug called a photosensitizer. A laser red light is targeted at the tumor tissue and is later absorbed by the photosensitizer leading to rather short lived toxic components. This photodynamic therapy is presently being clinically utilized for the treatment of brain, skin, lung, gastrointestinal tract, and prostate cancers.

Diagnostics: Laser induced fluorescence is fast emerging as an active field of research in several countries. It is being used for the early detection of cancer in the gastrointestinal tract and in the lungs. Normal tissue is distinct from precancerous and cancerous tissue in terms of the spectrum or color of the light that is emitted. Cancerous tissues generally emit less light at longer wavelengths. This distinction in light emission helps physicians identify cancerous sites so that they can carry out biopsies.

In the forthcoming years, the utilization of photons in biotechnology, diagnostic, and therapeutic areas will increase considerably. Several optical and optoelectronic companies have been setting up their own bioengineering and optics divisions. As a result, biotechnology companies with in-house photonics or players that collaborate with other companies are likely to increase in the next few years.