When you read about OLEDs it’s usually in the context of some super-performing display or TV, but now there’s interesting news about a medical exploitation of OLED lights. They’re being tested as a very efficient way to kill skin cancer cells.
The device has a large number of red OLEDs embedded into a plastic sticking plaster, like an illuminated band aid. When it’s fixed to the skin above a skin cancer tumor it sends extremely bright red light into the skin. The light activates a solution of aminolaevulinic acid, which is applied to the zone beforehand–it’s a light-sensitive chemical that binds to skin cancer cells and weakens their structure. When the light from the OLEDs reaches the cells, it then destroys them. The power consumption of the lights is apparently about the same as a household TV set, so the band aid section is connected by wires to a powerpack that’s carried by the patient, or stored in a pocket.
In-vitro tests have confirmed the setup kills skin cancer cells in around 30 minutes, and clinical trials on people are scheduled in the U.K. this summer.
In current treatments, patients are often treated in the hospital using large equipment–lighting and lasers. Hence the ultra-portable OLED solution has significant advantages, both for the patient and in terms of the overall cost of the treatment.
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