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Scientists to Test Light Therapy as Relief from Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

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University at Buffalo (UB) researchers have received part of a $1.5 million grant to investigate light therapy as a replacement for prescription opioids in treating oral mucositis, painful ulcers, and swelling in the mouth that result from chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer.

Funded by the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research Small Business Innovation Research program, the grant will help the researchers determine the effectiveness of photobiomodulation in prevention and treatment of oral mucositis after cancer treatment.

University at Buffalo scientists test light therapy to treat side effects of cancer treatment.
At a high power, light, often in the form of a laser, is used in medicine to cut or destroy tissue. But at a low level, it has the ability to relieve pain and promote healing. Courtesy of Douglas Levere, University at Buffalo.

The grant was awarded to Cleveland-based MuReva Phototherapy, a spin-off company of lighting solutions manufacturer Lumitex, to further develop the light technology. UB received $511,000 of the award to test the technology.

The research, led by Praveen Arany, DDS, assistant professor in the UB School of Dental Medicine, will be performed in collaboration with faculty from the Departments of Radiation Medicine and Oral Oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“The current epidemic of opioids has impacted cancer care, especially for cancer pain relief,” Arany said. “This treatment offers a simple, nondrug, noninvasive treatment approach to relieve pain and improve quality of life for cancer patients. The striking lab and clinical evidence for photobiomodulation treatments in supportive cancer care has demonstrated tremendous promise.”  

Arany, who is president of the World Association for Photobiomodulation Therapy and co-chair of the committee on light therapy for supportive oncology care of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, is an advocate for wider use of photobiomodulation in the United States. He recently took part in the first congressional briefing on photobiomodulation before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in Washington, D.C. The briefing, held Oct. 11, 2018, invited a panel of international experts on the therapy to discuss the potential of photobiomodulation to improve health care and lower dependence on opioids.

“The ability of low-dose light therapy to promote healing has been established since the 1960s,” Arany said. “A major obstacle with its widespread use has been a lack of understanding of its precise biological mechanism. Recent work from our group has outlined both therapeutic and dose-limiting molecular pathways that are aiding development of safe and efficacious clinical protocols.”


UB scientists use light to treat a painful side effect of cancer. Courtesy of University at Buffalo.

Photonics Handbook
GLOSSARY
photobiomodulation
A light therapy that utilizes nonionizing light sources, including lasers, LEDs, and broadband light, in the visible and infrared spectrum. It is a nonthermal process involving endogenous chromophores eliciting photophysical (i.e., linear and nonlinear) and photochemical events at various biological scales. This process results in beneficial therapeutic outcomes, including but not limited to the alleviation of pain or inflammation, immunomodulation, and promotion of wound healing and tissue...
Research & TechnologyeducationAmericasUniversity at BuffalofundingMuReva Phototherapylaserslight sourcesmedicinecancermedicalBiophotonicslight therapyphototherapyphotobiomodulationPBMpain managementpain treatmentopioidspainkillers

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