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Durham graduate helping to shine a light on cancer treatment

 

A Durham University graduate is working with a local biosciences company to advance a technology which could be used to treat cancer, wounds and infections

Josh Hughes, who has a degree in Natural Sciences, joined LightOx Limited on an internship as part of the Durham Internships and Collaborative Enterprise (DICE) programme, an initiative from the University’s Careers and Enterprise Centre.

DICE, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), supports eligible small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with a base in County Durham, by placing a student or graduate in a match-funded, paid internship.

LightOx Limited was founded in 2016 by Durham University researchers in the Departments of Chemistry and Biosciences. The technology LightOx has developed targets unwanted cells in the body by ‘lighting up’ damaged cells with a fluorescent drug in primary and secondary tumour regions.

The method could eliminate tumour cells without causing significant disruption to non-cancerous tissue and surrounding healthy cells. It is hoped this could provide alternative treatments for infections, wounds and cancerous cells, and avoid the need for surgery or the use of antibiotics.

Through Josh’s internship, he is helping the company to work towards developing drugs that could mean certain types of cancers, such as those in the head and neck, are treated with light activated technology, reducing the need for surgery and invasive treatment.

Sam Whitehouse, CEO of LightOx Limited, said: “Josh’s placement at LightOx Limited is invaluable to the company and the research he is doing is helping to advance our light-activated technology.

“As a local company, we are familiar with the range of skills a Durham student can bring to the workplace and how academic research can benefit businesses.

“We know how important it is to keep talented graduates in the North East and schemes such as DICE are helping us grow and develop, and to become a thriving part of the life science industry in the UK.”

Catherine Richardson, Director of Careers and Enterprise at Durham University, added: “We are delighted that LightOx is benefiting from DICE and that Josh has chosen to stay in the region. Retaining student talent here is vital to helping local SMEs grow and develop, while strengthening our local economy.

“DICE is a fantastic opportunity for SMEs to receive support from a talented student or graduate who can bring fresh, creative ideas to their business.

“If you are an SME in County Durham looking to develop a new product and need an extra pair of hands to help get a project off the ground, I would really encourage you to apply to DICE and see how your business could benefit from working with a student.”