Shin­ing a light on Parkinson’s

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News - BRIGID O’CON­NELL

THE power of light is emerg­ing as a promis­ing way to slow brain con­di­tions such as Parkinson’s dis­ease.

Clin­i­cal tri­als are un­der way across Aus­tralia test­ing whether ap­ply­ing “laser hel­mets” to the head of pa­tients can im­prove symp­toms and halt dis­ease pro­gres­sion. But a new Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney study has found ap­ply­ing low-level light to other parts of the body — par­tic­u­larly the ab­domen — could be even more ef­fec­tive.

Low-level laser ther­apy — or pho­to­biomod­u­la­tion — has been used for the past 50 years, typ­i­cally to treat pain or in­flam­ma­tion. But ev­i­dence is mount­ing for its po­ten­tial ben­e­fit for the brain.

The Syd­ney Uni­ver­sity team first showed in 2010 that shin­ing this near-in­fra-red light on to the heads of mice with Parkinson’s dis­ease could pro­tect against the loss of brain cells. But our “thick skulls” made the light less ef­fec­tive in hu­mans, lead re­searcher Daniel John­stone said.

In try­ing to find an al­ter­na­tive de­liv­ery, the team found de­liv­er­ing light to the lower legs of mon­keys with Parkinson’s de­layed the on­set of symp­toms, while shin­ing the light on their ab­domen pre­vented them from show­ing symp­toms of the dis­ease.

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