A low-dose light therapy known as photobiomodulation may accelerate the healing of skin damaged by radiation therapy by up to 50%. The corresponding study was published by researchers in the US and Brazil in Photonics.
"For over 40 years, photobiomodulation has been known to accelerate the healing of acute and chronic wounds, triggering cellular processes that control inflammation, pain signaling, and tissue regeneration and repair," said Rodrigo Mosca, Ph.D., senior author of the study.
Radiation brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy in which a radiation source is implanted into a cancer tissue to destroy it directly. While it has increased the precision of cancer care, it exposes the skin surrounding the tumor to low doses of radiation that lead to damage ranging from burn wounds to inflammation, scarring, and reduced blood flow.
Previous research conducted in Arany’s lab found that photobiomodulation promotes healing by activating TGF beta 1 proteins that regulate healing in fibroblasts- the main connective tissue cells of the body that play a role in tissue repair- and macrophages- immune cells that reduce inflammation and fight infection.
In the present study, the researchers tested photobiomodulation on 36 mice who had undergone brachytherapy. They underwent either red or near-infrared light therapy once per week for as long as needed for their wounds to heal.
In the end, the researchers found that the mice who received red light therapy healed within an average of 42 days. Those under near-infrared light healed within 49 days, whereas those without photobiomodulation took 61 days to heal on average.
Moreover, mice who had received light therapy experienced improved blood flow alongside reduced inflammation and metabolic derangement- an indicator of risk for conditions like heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
"To our knowledge, this is the first report on the successful use of photobiomodulation therapy for brachytherapy," said Praveen Arany, DDS, PhD, senior author of the study. "The results from this study support the progression to controlled human clinical studies to utilize this innovative therapy in managing the side effects from radiation cancer treatments."