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Laser Treatments Tested for Cancer Side Effects

Green laser beams

(SD-Pictures, Pixabay)

12 Feb. 2019. Researchers from University at Buffalo are evaluating low-level lasers as a treatment for oral mucositis, a painful adverse effect of cancer chemo and radiation therapy. The study is part of a project to develop a mouthpiece that treats oral mucositis by emitting lasers to treat the damage caused by the cancer-killing therapies, funded by a Small Business Innovation Research grant from National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of National Institutes of Health.

Oral mucositis is a common disorder caused by chemotherapy and radiation used to treat cancer, which breaks down the mucous membranes in the mouth. The university cites data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing nearly 40 percent of chemotherapy patients and 80 percent of radiation recipients experience the condition. Pain from oral mucositis can be so severe that patients have trouble swallowing and eating, and even delay cancer treatments. The only treatments for the condition address the pain, often with opioid pain relievers, which come with their own set of adverse effects.

A team led by Buffalo professor of dental medicine Praveen Arany is testing a device called OralGlo made by MuReva Phototherapy in Cleveland, Ohio. MuReva spun-off last year from lighting technologies company Lumitex, recipient of the new small business grant, and an earlier preliminary study to determine the feasibility of the technique. The university says Arany’s team, including researchers from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, also in Buffalo, New York, will receive one-third of the $1.5 million award to MuReva Phototherapy.

Arany and colleagues are tasked with assessing the device that delivers photobiomodulation therapy to the mouth. The OralGlo device uses low-level lasers that irradiate mucous membranes in the mouth for about 10 minutes. The Buffalo researchers will determine safe dosage levels for the device in lab tests and assess any progression of cancer in mice induced with squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, also receiving photobiomodulation therapy.

Arany is also president of the World Association for Photobiomodulation Therapy, who testified before the U.S. Congress in October 2018 about the technology. The techniques, also known as low-level laser therapy, has been in use for more than 50 years in Europe, Canada, and Australia, but are also associated with some medical frauds.

“The striking lab and clinical evidence for photobiomodulation treatments in supportive cancer care has demonstrated tremendous promise and is becoming popular,” says Arany in a university statement. He adds, “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.”

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