A NASA technology originally developed for plant growth experiments on space shuttle missions has successfully reduced the painful side effects resulting from chemotherapy and radiation treatment in bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients.
In a two-year clinical trial, cancer patients undergoing bone marrow or stem cell transplants were given a far red/near infrared Light Emitting Diode treatment called High Emissivity Aluminiferous Luminescent Substrate, or HEALS, to treat oral mucositis — a common and extremely painful side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The trial concluded that there is a 96 percent chance that the improvement in pain of those in the high-risk patient group was the result of the HEALS treatment.
“Using this technology as a healing agent was phenomenal,” said Dr. Donna Salzman, clinical trial principal investigator and director of clinical services and education at the Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy Unit at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. “The HEALS device was well tolerated with no adverse affects to our bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients.”
The HEALS device, known as the WARP 75 light delivery system, can provide a cost-effective therapy since the device itself is less expensive than a day at the hospital and a proactive therapy for symptoms of mucositis that are currently difficult to treat without additional, negative side effects.
The device could offer patients several benefits: better nutrition since eating can be difficult with painful mouth and throat sores; less narcotic use to treat mouth and throat pain; and an increase in patient morale — all of which can contribute to shorter hospital stays and less potential for infection, added Salzman.