17 Nov LEDS Bring Relief to Young Cancer Patients
First-round tests successful for Barneveld-made device
BARNEVELD, WI. – A device using specialized light emitting diodes (LED), based on NASA technology for plant growth in space, is continuing to show promise as a treatment to aid healing of bone marrow transplant patients. Use of the LED apparatus has advanced to the second phase of clinical trials in U.S. and foreign hospitals. Results from the first round of tests were encouraging, prompting researchers to expand the trials as they seek approval for the treatment as a standard of care for oral mucositis.
The wound-healing device is made by Quantum Devices of Barneveld, Wisconsin which specializes in the manufacture of silicon photodiodes — semiconductor devices used for light detection — and light emitting diodes for commercial, industrial and medical applications.
The first round of tests by Medical College of Wisconsin researchers at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, were so encouraging that doctors have expanded the trials to several U.S. and foreign hospitals.
“We’ve already seen how using LEDs can improve a bone marrow transplant patient’s quality of life,” said Dr. Harry Whelan, professor of neurology, pediatrics and hyperbaric medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “These trials will hopefully help us take the next steps to provide this as a standard of care for this ailment.”
These LEDs provide light for plants grown on the Space Station as part of commercial experiments sponsored by industry under the Space Product Development Program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Researchers discovered that the diodes also had many promising medical applications, prompting this research to be funded by a NASA Small Business Innovation Research contract through the Technology Transfer Department at the Marshall Center.
Biologists have found that cells exposed to near-infrared light — that is, energy just outside the visible range — from LEDs grow 150 to 200 percent faster than those cells not stimulated by such light. The light arrays increase energy inside cells that speed up the healing process.
In the first stage of the study, use of the LEDs resulted in significant relief to pediatric bone marrow transplant patients suffering the ravages of oral mucositis, a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatments according to Dr. David Margolis, associate professor of pediatrics at the Medical College. He works with Dr. Whelan on the study at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, a major teaching affiliate of the Medical College.
Young bone marrow transplant recipients often contract this condition that produces ulcerations in the mouth and throat, severe pain, and in some cases, inflammation of the entire gastro-intestinal tract. Swelling and bleeding occur, and chewing and swallowing become difficult, if not impossible — affecting a child’s overall health because of reduced drinking and eating.
“Our first study was very encouraging, and using the LED device greatly reduced or prevented the mucositis problem, which is so painful and devastating to these children,” said Whelan. “But we still need to learn more. We’re conducting further clinical trials with larger groups and expanded control groups, as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, before the device can be approved and available for widespread use.”
The clinical trials are expected to take approximately three years with a total of 80 patients. Participants currently include the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee; Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. and Instituto de Oncologia Pediatrica, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago; University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago; Hospital Sirio Libanes in Sao Paulo Brazil; and Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel have also asked to join the multi-center study.