Light for health

12. January 2010

Light for health

Volker Plickert und Lutz Melchior, Geschäftsführer von Optricon © Adlershof Special

Volker Plickert (left) und Lutz Melchior, CEOs of Optricon

A simple rapid test can be a life saver in the event of a suspected heart attack. Two years ago the Adlershof company Optricon presented an analyser for just this purpose. Utilising optical methods and microprocessor evaluations the analyser provides information on the severity of a heart attack with greater speed and precision. In January 2010 the company has now embarked on the production of a device platform that not only support this heart attack test, but a great many other analyses. Like Optricon, also Jan Henrik Wilkens utilises light of a particular wavelength in the treatment of neurodermatitis. His company Optomed builds devices for combating skin diseases.

The universal mobile reader system from Optricon supports diagnostics for e.g. rapid allergy, diabetes, drug, alcohol, urine and toxicological tests. The method is centred around test strips that have been treated with a biochemical agent and that are integrated in a matchbox sized cassette where they are saturated with just a few drops of blood. The “reaction zone”, a window on the test cassette, displays coloured lines when certain substances, so called markers, are detected. In most cases these markers are proteins that are released as the body’s response to inflammation. Methods for detecting these substances are not new. “New is the possibility of evaluating the colour change quantitatively, without the route through the laboratory,” explained Lutz Melchior, founder and managing director of Optricon.

The reader system analyses the intensity of the colour change and converts the findings into information that the doctor can act on. The test cassette containing the test strips is introduced into the device and irradiated with light of a certain wavelength. The whole test strip field is mapped on a 2D CCD sensor. A microprocessor analyses the pixel data from the sensor, calculates the concentration of the marker and inputs this as a numerical value to the display. The software needed for this is written by Optricon itself.

“The reader system immediately provides the doctor with the information he needs for his diagnosis,” explained Volker Plickert, the company’s cofounder. Both men see great potential for the new platform. Immunological test methods number between 200 and 300, of which ten to twenty are covered directly by the present device family. An analyser weighs 700 grams, and an external computer is no longer necessary for processing the data. “That too is an advantage,” grinned Melchior, “or would you want to wait for the doctor to power up his computer when you’re on the verge of a heart attack?”

Besides heart diseases and allergies neurodermatitis is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting children that can also be a serious complaint among adults. The standard treatment to date involves creams and cortisone ointments. Now there is new hope in the form of treatment with blue light developed by the Adlershof company Optomed. Its managing director, Jan Henrik Wilkens of the medical profession, discovered that a certain blue light destroyed inflammable white blood cells in the skin. He developed a device that can be used to combat skin diseases: Resembling a sunbed, but without the destructiveness of UV radiation, this device leaves the other cells of the skin’s immune system untouched. This completely new method for treating neurodermatitis has now been approved as DermoDyne light immunisation.

The method developed by Optomed focuses visible blue light to five times the energy of the midday sun and emits this in flashes on the skin. The light is free of UV and so cannot cause cancer. However, it is so intensive that goggles must be worn during the treatment. And because blue light is converted to heat in the skin the treated area must be cooled. Similar to ultraviolet light or a cortisone therapy the blue light inhibits inflammation in the skin.

Rico Bigelmann