Optics play a main role in efficiently delivering the light to the cells for Multiple Sclerosis drug generation

Optogenerapy > Interview  > Optics play a main role in efficiently delivering the light to the cells for Multiple Sclerosis drug generation

Optics play a main role in efficiently delivering the light to the cells for Multiple Sclerosis drug generation

In Optogenerapy project, light fuels the medical device, the energy to activate the engineered cells in the chamber for the production of IFN-ß protein, a therapeutic drug proven effective for the treatment of patients with Multiple Sclerosis.


In charge of the implant’s optical design, ASE Optics explains in this interview the importance of optics for channelling the light homogenously to all the cells in the membrane, the challenges found and overcome during the production of Optogenerapy’s optics systemand the potential of optics for other medical applications.


What is your role on Optogenerapy project?


We are responsible for the optical design of the implant. This task is critical to the functionality of the implant and impacts the efficiency of the illumination of the cells by the remote-powered LED.


Can you explain the concept behind Optogenerapy’s optics?


We are developing light guiding concepts in micron-size channels using a combination of refractive and reflective and Total Internal Reflection, surface properties that collect the light from the miniaturized LED and guide it around the implant to the cells. Micro-featuring of the waveguide’s surfaces is then used to homogeneously deliver the light to the cells in the cell chamber.


How the light reaches the cells and activates them for the production of therapeutic proteins?


Thanks to an optical ray tracing software, we trace non-sequential beams, which allows for accurate predictions of the behaviour of the light into the membrane. This technology makes possible to optimize the lightning and ensure the light is spread into the membrane homogenously.


Which are the main challenges being dealt with?


Working in such a space-constrained biological environment brings on a breadth of exciting challenges for the optical design, including the difficulties of manufacture a light guiding into a 600 microns’ thick cell chamber, material restrictions imposed by bio-compatibility with the cells and geometrical restrictions for pain-free implantation. On the other hand, the cells engineered by ETHZ respond to a relatively narrow bandwidth of light, a constrain that has to be taken into account for the optic system design.


What the light emanating from the optic system represents for Optogenerapy project?


One of the major advances which brought to life the Optogenerapy project is the optically stimulated generation of interferon-βby radiation, located in the red and infra-red part of the spectrum. This range of wavelengths is non-ionising and therefore safe to use in contact with biological tissue.


What is the potential of optics in health applications?


Optics (LEDs) are nowadays seen in many medical applications. Their compactness, long lifetimes and high wall-plug efficiencies make them ideal for miniaturisation of components in medical applications. These applications are far ranging within the medical sector, including endoscopes, opto-genetics or other technical illumination necessities in dermatology or ophthalmology, among others.


Could we apply Optogenerapy’s optics to other sectors as well?


Absolutely, the coupling of LED light into micro-featured waveguides has an impact even beyond the medical sector, reaching the automotive, aerospace and consumer lighting markets. The skills and knowledge developed through the application specific work performed for Optogenerapy is transversally transferrable to a vast number of applications.



ASE Optics Europe is an optical systems design and engineering firm, founded by experienced professionals in optomechanical engineering and optics business accumulating over 20 years of technical and business experience. The firm has developed complex photonics enabled systems, integrating physics, photonics, optics, mechanics, electronics and systems design for the development of integrated customer-oriented solutions from concept to production.