MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mei X. Wu, Ph.D.
Wellman Center for Photomedicine
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: An abnormally low count of platelets, a disorder called thrombocytopenia, is life-threatening owing to a high risk of uncontrollable bleeding. The disorder can be caused by a variety of conditions like trauma, an autoimmune disorder that attacks platelets, side-effects of some drugs especially chemotherapeutic drugs, and in premature newborns and patients with HIV-infection or a genetic defect leading to insufficient platelet generation. Platelet transfusion is the most effective modality to treat the disorder, but it is associated with complications including allergic reaction, fever, infection, and immunosuppression and limited only to the most severe patients. Several FDA-approved drugs are currently used in the clinics or clinical trials to increase platelet levels, which however must be carefully dosed to avoid excessive platelet production that is also dangerous and are not suitable to many forms of thrombocytopenia.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our investigation reveals that a special near-infrared low-level laser (LLL) can enhance platelet production in animals with thrombocytopenia, but not in normal controls, suggesting a safe, drug-free, donor-independent modality for treating or preventing thrombocytopenia. LLL treatment increased the average size of megakaryocytes, the precursors of platelets, accelerated the formation of proplatelets and doubled the number of platelet generation from both mouse and human megakaryocytes. LLL therapy shortens the platelet recovery time by half in three forms of thrombocytopenia in mice because of its ability to stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis in megakaryocytes.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Laser is a specific wavelength of light that can be amplified and manipulated via power, pulse frequency and width, beam size, and so on. Its effect can be drastically different from sun light just like oxygen vs. ambient air. While oxygen in ambient air is sufficient for healthy individuals, it is not enough for very sick patients. Given the fact that mitochondria are evolved from bacteria that commonly use light to synthesize ATP, mitochondria may preserve some of light-converting-ATP activity. LLL also called cold lasers –has been used to improve wound healing, relieve pain, and treat conditions including stroke and neurodegenerative disorders. Because of its long record of safety, people may overly use it in many wrong conditions with unspecific laser parameters, leading to mixed effects of the treatment. LLL can be beneficial probably only if it is used to treat a right disorder by a well-defined laser, which we just begin to explore.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Currently, there is no any device capable of illuminating either the entire body or enough bones to stimulate sufficient platelet production from megakaryocytes within the bone marrow. Future study should be attempted to engineer a chair or vest comprised of an array of laser sources to illuminate enough bones non-invasively for patients to sit on or wear it one hour a day for 3~4 days. The modality is expected to be painless, noninvasive, safe, and cost-effective and can be used repeatedly with no concerns about too many platelets generated if it is proved to work similarly in humans. Additional studies are needed corroborating which forms of thrombocytopenia are suitable for the treatment.
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BY QI ZHANG, TINGTING DONG, PEIYU LI, MEI X. WU
SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE27 JUL 2016 : 349RA101
Low-level laser promotes platelet production from megakaryocytes by mitochondrial protection and biogenesis.
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