Bright sparks of­fer hope to Parkinson’s suf­fer­ers

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS -

ply­ing low-level light to other parts of an an­i­mal’s body – par­tic­u­larly the ab­domen – can be even more ef­fec­tive in pro­tect­ing brain cells.

Low-level laser ther­apy, or pho­to­biomod­u­la­tion, has been used for 50 years – typ­i­cally to treat pain or in­flam­ma­tion – but ev­i­dence is emerg­ing of its po­ten­tial ben­e­fits to the brain.

In 2010 the Syd­ney team showed that shin­ing this near­in­frared light onto the heads of mice with Parkinson’s dis­ease could pro­tect against the loss of brain cells.

“Fol­low­ing that, we’ve done heaps of stud­ies that have used dif­fer­ent wave­lengths of light, al­ter­ing when we give the light – ei­ther be­fore, dur­ing or af­ter the in­jury – and we con­sis­tently show we can pro­tect the brain,” said lead re­searcher Dr Daniel John­stone.

“The prob­lem you face mov­ing into hu­mans is that even at these longer wave­lengths we use, you lose about two-thirds of your in­ten­sity for every mil­lime­tre of tis­sue you pass through. We have thick skulls.”

The team’s most re­cent study, of three mon­keys with Parkinson’s, found that while shin­ing light on the head gave no neu­ro­pro­tec­tion, shin­ing it on the lower legs de­layed the on­set of symp­toms, and shin­ing it on the ab­domen pre­vented symp­toms from show­ing.

Dr John­stone said while the find­ings – pre­sented at the

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