Image: The low-level light therapy device (Photo courtesy University of Manchester).
A novel low-level light therapy (LTTT) device could provide a new treatment option for systemic sclerosis digital ulcers (DUs), claims a new study.
Developed by researchers at Salford Royal NHS Trust (SRFT; United Kingdom), the University of Manchester (United Kingdom), and other institutions, the LTTT device is a custom-built light emitting diode (LED) lamp that emits light in the infrared (IR; 850nm), red (660nm), and ultraviolet (UV; 405nm) bands. The IR light increases tissue blood flow and oxygenation; red light is believed to boost blood circulation, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients, and is also thought to stimulate the production of collagen; and UV light kills bacteria and reduces inflammation.
In a study to test the device, eight patients with 14 DUs between them underwent the treatment at SRFT. The DUs were irradiated with a 10J/cm2 dose twice weekly for three weeks, with follow-up at weeks four and eight. Patient and clinician DU global assessment and laser Doppler perfusion imaging both pre- and post-irradiation were used to evaluate treatment outcomes. The results revealed an average 83% improvement in DUs, with no side effects, and that DU perfusion significantly increased post-irradiation. The study was published on June 4, 2018, in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment.
“Patients having light therapy for ulcers, using lasers, are currently treated in hospital over five days and are forced to take medications which lower their blood pressure. The new therapy can be administered at home,” said lead author consultant rheumatologist Michael Hughes, MD, of the University of Manchester. “We believe this technology is a game changer; the implications are huge. In the next six to twelve months we shall be refining the machine, and within 12 months we hope to trialing it on diabetic ulcers.”
DUs are a common visible manifestation of the progressive vascular disease that characterizes systemic sclerosis disease process. DUs not only impact significantly on patients’ quality of life and hand function, but are also a biomarker of internal organ involvement and of disease severity. DUs are often exquisitely painful and are associated with high levels of hand and global disability. They are often infected and slow to heal, especially in the presence of calcinosis, and can also be associated with an underlying bone infection.
Salford Royal NHS Trust
University of Manchester