Achievement Unlocked: Red Light Therapy Advances in Spinal Cord Injury Repair

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have devised a novel treatment for spinal cord injuries (SCI) using red and near-infrared light. This approach, patented by University of Birmingham Enterprise, delivers light directly to the injury site.

Published in Bioengineering and Translational Medicine, has identified an optimal treatment regimen and demonstrated significant therapeutic benefits, including the restoration of sensation and movement, as well as the regeneration of damaged nerve cells.

The research team utilized cell models of SCI to determine the ideal frequency and duration of light exposure for maximum functional restoration and nerve cell regrowth. 

Findings revealed that exposure to 660nm wavelength light for just one minute per day increased cell viability by 45% over five days of treatment. Professor Ahmed explained that this light was both neuroprotective, improving nerve cell survival, and neuroregenerative, stimulating nerve cell growth.

The researchers explored the effects of light therapy in preclinical models of SCI using both implantable devices and transcutaneous delivery with the light source placed against the skin.

Remarkably, found comparable results for both methods, with a one-minute daily dose of 660nm light over seven days leading to reduced tissue scarring, increased levels of proteins associated with nerve cell regeneration, enhanced cell connections, and significant functional recovery.

The first direct comparison of transcutaneous and direct light delivery in SCI. Professor Ahmed emphasized the necessity of an implantable device for human treatment, enabling precise targeting of damaged tissue and standardized dosing.

The research team is planning to develop an implantable device for use in humans with traumatic SCI. With additional funding secured, they are actively seeking commercial partners or investors to aid in the development of a prototype device for initial clinical trials.




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