Could light emitting wearable device treat dementia?

A device has been developed which aims to treat dementia by shining infra-red light onto a patient’s brain by inserting a probe into their nose.

Vielight Inc. is a Toronto based company which has been developing wearable photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) devices for the last 10 years, and says its devices have been used in research projects at institutes such as Harvard Medical School and Boston University.

The Vielight 810 Infrared and Vielight Neuro wearable devices are worn on the head, with a light probe inserted into the patient’s nostril.

Vielight says there is early evidence that this infrared energy stimulation or PBMT of the frontal cortex can improve sustained attention, working memory and mood,  and claims a pilot study of its technology has produced promising results.

The company says 19 patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia were tested in a 12-week randomised, placebo-controlled study. 

Vielight won’t release details of the trial until it publishes its feasibility study is published in a peer-reviewed paper in the coming months. 

Participants were instructed to wear the Neuro device for 20 minutes once or twice a week and the Vielight 810 every day for 25 minutes at a time. The company claims that the results from the study resulted in ‘significant clinical improvements.’

Patients involved in the study included those with moderate to severe cognitive impairment, meaning they tend to be excluded from drug clinical trial participation.

Previous studies into the underlying PBMT technology suggest that near-infrared light increases levels of ATP in neural cells, which can be used by the cells to grow and repair. The technology has therefore been seen as a potential alternative to traditional invasive options, such as deep brain stimulation, which require surgical implantation of some sort into nervous tissue.

“The promise shown in this pilot study is owed to decades of work by numerous researchers in the field of photobiomodulation,” said Lew Lim, inventor and CEO of Vielight. “We are privileged to be able to translate the research into wearable devices that have shown such encouraging results. This has provided a good basis for us to progress to a more rigorous clinical trial; and we aim to start the process in the next few months with the support of MaRS EXCITE.”

The MaRS Excellence in Clinical Innovation and Technology Evalution (EXCITE) programme attempts to foster some of the most cutting-edge technologies in the world and accelerate their adoption across international healthcare systems. The trial will now see Vielight’s devices integrated into the programme to allow for a wider scale clinical study.

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.