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Can all diseases be treated with light?

Public Lecture 29 November 2016
Hosted by the Laser Research Centre

The Laser Research Centre at the University of Johannesburg is pleased to invite you to attend a public lecture by the esteemed Prof. M.R. Hamblin. Michael R Hamblin Ph.D. is a Principal Investigator at the Wellman Centre for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, an Associate Professor of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School and affiliated faculty at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology. He directs a laboratory of around a dozen scientists who work in photodynamic therapy and low-level light therapy. He has published 340 peer-reviewed articles, which have been cited over 20,000 times giving an h-index of 74. He is Associate Editor for 10 journals and serves on NIH Study-Sections. He has edited 11 SPIE proceedings volumes together with eight other major textbooks on PDT and photomedicine. In 2011 Dr Hamblin was honoured by election as a Fellow of SPIE.

Visible and near-infrared light may be able to treat all (or nearly all) human diseases. Light plus non-toxic dyes called photosensitizers (PS) can kill cancer cells, inactivate a broad-spectrum of pathogens and destroy unwanted tissue using a process called photodynamic therapy (PDT). The mechanism involves photchemical generation of a range of reactive oxygen species including singlet oxygen and hydroxyl radicals. Due to the alarming worldwide rise in multi-antibiotic resistance in bacteria PDT has emerged as a promising alternative for localized infections. Addition of harmless inorganic salts such as potassium iodide can potentiate antimicrobial PDT.

It has been observed that antigen-specific immune response against cancer can be potentiated by PDT. Moreover a non-specific protective immune response against infection has also been observed. In contrast light alone in a process called photobiomodulation (PBM) or low level light therapy (LLLT) can reduce inflammation and pain, stimulate healing and tissue repair. Mechanisms involve photon absorption in mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase, and heat-activated transient receptor potential ion channels. Stem cells are particularly sensitive to light activation.

Many different diseases and injuries can be benefited including wound healing, arthritis, spinal cord injury, muscle fatigue, and neuropathic pain. Brain disorders respond very well such as traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and PTSD. PBM can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neurogenesis and synaptogenesis.

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