This light-activated compound kills 100% of targeted cancer cells

Toronto-based Theralase is aiming to commercialize a laser-based cancer treatment with fewer side effects



Even if you’re successfully treated for bladder cancer, there’s an 80% chance that you’ll suffer a recurrence, making it among the most expensive types of cancer to treat.

Toronto-based Theralase thinks it can make life easier for patients­­­ —and tap into a $4-billion treatment market—with a new procedure that’s faster and less invasive than current treatments.

The treatment employs a chemical substance known as a “photodynamic compound” (or PDC). When placed at the site of a cancerous tumour in a rodent and “activated” by a scope with a light source, the compounds eradicated up to 100% of cancer cells.

CEO Roger Dumoulin-White, a Western University engineering grad, first read about academic research into PDCs a decade ago in an “obscure” magazine article. He sought out the rights to the technology and teamed with the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto to conduct research.

“Quite frankly I’m an entrepreneur. I didn’t invent anything,” he says. “What’s the old adage? To achieve something great, you stand on the shoulders of giants.”

The company recently struck a deal with Acadia University to produce the PDCs, a step towards commercialization.