Red lights and disease-seeking missiles

Journal Article: Targeting the body to protect the brain: introducing neuroprotection with remotely-applied near infrared light.  Link

This research article was published on 10 March 2015 in the journal, Neural Regeneration Research, by Daniel Johnstone, John Mitrofanis and Jonathan Stone, all from the University of Sydney.

Here’s a summary.

While the causes of many diseases are not known, the diseased cells all do have systems to repair themselves. Research into the use of red and near infrared light on damaged cells has shown that the light can stimulate these cells into starting the repair processes.

The light exposure does not have to be heavy duty. LEDs work just as well as lasers.
Surgically inserting a light device into the brain (in the same way as Deep Brain Stimulation is inserted into the brains of people with advanced Parkinson’s Disease) works a treat, but most people don’t fancy having brain surgery.

The indirect effect of light is showing itself to be more and more important. The body has ways of harnessing and transporting the energy from the light to other parts of the body. Sounds wierd, but it seems it is so.

Red and near infrared light boosts the production of mesenchymal stem cells, MSCs.

Red light stimulates the bone marrow to increase production of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) which have a number of properties. MSCs can:

  • cross into the brain
  • seek out diseased and inflamed cells
  • provide the energy for diseased cells to repair themselves

MSCs are disease-seeking missiles. They seek, find and help fix diseased cells.

The term stem cells gets people pretty excited these days. It is likely that the potential of MSCs have not yet been fully appreciated.

So, shining red and near infrared light on one part of the body can improve function in another part of the body.

Question: Will my Parkinson’s symptoms improve if I shine light on my left big toe?

Answer: Theoretically yes, and your bunion would definitely feel much more cheerful.

But it does make sense to shine light onto the head. Some of the light will penetrate into the brain and that is very useful. There is bone marrow in the skull so the MSC production will increase and the new MSCs will be close to their target.

Author: redlightsonthebrain

Redlightsonthebrain is a retired doctor curious about the brain.

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