Prof. Dr. Walt Heinrich

Main Field(s) of Research, Abstract

1. Photodynamic therapy (PDT), is a treatment modality which has three components; a chemical compound, known as photosensitiser (drug), the light whose wavelength matches the absorption band of the drug, and oxygen. The interaction between the photosensitiser and the light in the presence of oxygen brings about the photodynamic effect, characterised by the destruction of the targeted tissue. We have terminated a European project, that allows a combination of PDT with nanotechnology in order to gain more performance. Equally, we found that a combination of PDT with electro magnetic fields boosts the PDT effects considerably. In the future, we are going to investigate the potential of PDT against lesions in the oral- and maxillo-facial area. Some of these projects are performed in collaboration with the research group of Professor Dr. Caroline Maake, Institute of Anatomy, University of Zurich.

2. In the field of Psycho-Oncology we started a new project which is related to specialized rehabilitation in oncology. We were able to show that quality of life and fitness of the tumor patients are optimized due to a well targeted rehabilitation program. As a continuation of this project, we concentrate on patients with cancer related Fatigue (CRF). This is a disease which is triggered by cancer and/or its treatment. Yet, the disease is not exhaustively understood and only for few treatment approaches effectiveness was proven, primarily moderate physical activity, e.g., walking. New technologies like smartphone sensors provide advanced means of examining diseases also in daily life. This was already shown for patients with chronic pain or Parkinson’s disease. The aim of this study is to examine the physical and social activity level as well as behavior of patients with CRF and to evaluate feasibility and acceptance of smartphones for this purpose. This part of the project is performed in collaboration with Prof. Gerhard Tröster and his team (Electronics Laboratory-Wearable Computing, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich).

Main Fields of Research, Keywords 
Cancer research, oral cavity, photodynamic medicine, nanomedicine, radio frequency electro magnetic fields, psycho-oncology, rehabilitation, translational research, mobile sensors, wearable computing

Special Techniques and Equipment 
We have access to fully equipped laboratories for cell culture as well as for imaging with fluorescence technology and lasers for PDT. 

Education and Training 
The European Platform for Photodynamic Medicine,
http://www.eppm-photomedicine.org/ is an excellent and helpful network for exchange of knowledge in this field. In parallel we organize specific workshops and congresses in Photodynamic Medicine.