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DARPA Awards LED-Therapy Study Grant

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MILWAUKEE, Wisc., March 6 -- The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded the Medical College of Wisconsin $1.2 million in funding to further explore the healing properties of light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

This project supports DARPA’s Persistence In Combat (PIC) program to evaluate the acceleration of healing for battlefield injuries such as retinal eye damage and stress fractures.

Compared with traditional lasers, LEDs generate negligible amounts of heat, which have been proven to be safe in clinical trials for chronic injuries, the college said. Dr. Harry Whelan will lead a team of investigators to heal far-forward combat wounds. Whelan is professor of neurology, pediatrics and hyperbaric medicine at the college.

The funding enables the researchers to begin studies on basic molecular mechanisms and functional genomics to stimulate repair of eye tissue. In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, photobiomodulation was demonstrated to restore vision in a methanol-induced eye injury model.

The college said the military application will have a profound impact in treating the civilian population such as diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, optic neuritis and macular degeneration.

"Our studies support the DARPA vision of far-forward self-care medicine as initiated by the PIC program," Whelan said.

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Mar 2003
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