Tri­als of­fer hope for de­men­tia re­ver­sal

LIGHT THER­APY

Ottawa Citizen - - News - SARAH KNAP­TON

Alzheimer’s dis­ease could be re­versed by shin­ing light di­rectly into the brain through the nose and skull, sci­en­tists be­lieve.

The first ma­jor trial to see if light ther­apy could be ben­e­fi­cial for de­men­tia has be­gun fol­low­ing as­ton­ish­ing early re­sults that have seen peo­ple re­gain their mem­ory, read­ing and writ­ing skills, and ori­en­ta­tion.

If suc­cess­ful, it would be the first treat­ment to ac­tu­ally re­verse the dis­ease. So far, even the most hope­ful drugs, such as Bio­gen’s ad­u­canumab, have only man­aged to slow the on­set of de­men­tia and many sci­en­tists had given up hope of re­vers­ing brain dam­age once it had al­ready hap­pened.

But a de­vice called the Neuro RX Gamma head­set, de­vel­oped by Vielight, a Canada-based biotech com­pany, may be about to suc­ceed.

The de­vice works through a process called “pho­to­biomod­u­la­tion” where pulses of near-in­frared light are di­rected to parts of the brain known to be dam­aged in de­men­tia.

Dr. Lew Lim, the CEO of Vielight and in­ven­tor of the de­vice, said: “Pho­to­biomod­u­la­tion in­tro­duces the ther­a­peu­tic ef­fect of light into our brain.

“It trig­gers the body to re­store its nat­u­ral bal­ance or home­osta­sis. When we do that, we call upon the body’s in­nate abil­ity to heal.

“We have a much big­ger am­bi­tion than the drug tri­als. Drug de­vel­op­ers are mainly ei­ther seek­ing to slow the men­tal de­cline in di­ag­nosed cases, or to pre­vent the on­set of Alzheimer’s dis­ease by in­ter­ven­ing at the pre-symp­to­matic stage.

“Based on early data, we are con­fi­dent of see­ing some mea­sure of re­cov­ery in the symp­toms, not just a slow­down in the rate of de­cline, even in mod­er­ate to se­vere cases.”

The de­vice works by fir­ing 40 Hz gamma waves di­rectly into the skull us­ing LEDs on a head­set. A sep­a­rate nasal clip also chan­nels light up the nose to the hip­pocam­pus, part of the brain con­nected to mem­ory.

VIELIGHT

Alzheimer’s could be re­versed by shin­ing light into the brain through the nose, sci­en­tists posit.

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