Living with Dementia – Could light therapy hold the key to fighting one of the world’s most dreaded brain disorders?

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According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. A relatively new technology focusing on these brain condition is gaining new ground among sufferers across the globe. The technology which uses photobiomodulation, or in simple terms, light therapy, is being advocated by Toronto-based company, Vielight Inc, and is finding wide-ranging therapeutic applications.

Photobiomodulation, or in simple terms, light therapy has been around for a long time now, but it is only in recent times after a significant amount of published research that it has received positive press.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that results in memory impairment, increases difficulty in performing day-to-day tasks, and leads to behavioural and psychological changes. This fatal condition eventually affects all aspects of a person’s life: how they think, feel, and act.

Dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease comprises around 70 per cent of the cases, is the second leading underlying cause of death across the world. The average life expectancy after symptoms begin is eight years, with sufferers usually succumbing to complications of advanced debilitation, such as infection and malnutrition.

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About 25,000 new cases of dementia are diagnosed each year, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. It estimates that 564,000 Canadians have dementia right now. The Society warns that by 2031, more than 937,000 Canadians will have dementia.

Vielight Inc is one of the leading companies dedicated to the research of Alzheimer. After promising results in a small human case study, Vielight has now launched a randomized placebo controlled clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the transcranial and intranasal photobiomodulation-based Neuro RX Gamma on the cognition, memory and behavior of people with moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s Disease. This trial is running in partnership with Chatham-Kent Clinical Trials Research Centre (in Chatham) and the Centre for Memory and Aging (in Toronto) to determine how photobiomodulation could help to stop or reverse the progression of Alzheimer symptoms and will be the first human trial of its kind.

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The Vielight Neuro Gamma is a home-use brain photobiomodulation device that delivers 810 nm near infrared light energy, pulsed at 40 Hz. The Gamma is being used in several ongoing clinical trials in several sites across North America, including checking the feasibility, safety, and efficacy of the Gamma for treatment of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Worldwide, Alzheimer’s sufferers are exploring low-cost therapies that are non-invasive, painless and easy to use,” explained Dr. Lim. “Photobiomodulation is increasingly becoming popular with such users and it is only a matter of time before this therapy finds greater acceptance in the healthcare fraternity.”

Build-up of beta amyloid protein is one of the earliest changes seen in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. It clumps together to form sticky plaques and is thought to cause nerve cell death and memory loss. When the mice were put under 40 Hz flashing light (as for the Vielight Neuro Gamma) for an hour per day, it led to a significant reduction in beta amyloid after seven days in the parts of the brain that process vision.

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Likewise, light stimulation direct to the part of the brain that deals with memory – the hippocampus – would lead to reductions of beta amyloid there. The researchers say the light pulsing at 40 Hz works by recruiting the help of resident immune cells called microglia. Microglia are scavengers. They eat and clear harmful deposits – in this instance, beta amyloid. It is hoped that clearing beta amyloid and stopping more plaques from forming with the use of the Neuro Gamma could halt Alzheimer and its symptoms.

Vielight hopes to release the results of the clinical trial by the end of this year. -CINEWS

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