Can blue LED light treat vascular disease and diabetes?

By TNT Bureau

Oct 23, 2017: Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers, led Dan Berkowitz, MD, professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, has found a way to treat vascular diseases with the help of blue light, which can be blue LED light.

The researchers found a receptor on blood vessels that helps the blood vessel to relax with the help of blue light, which means that it is useful in treating vascular diseases.

The team found that a receptor known as melanopsin or opsin 4, which is a group of light receptor that do not form image, helped blood vessels to relax in response to blue light. This they experimented in mice and found that without opsin 4, blood vessels did not relax in response to light.

Dan Berkowitz believes that there are a number of applications where his research will be beneficial. The team plans to use high intensity LEDs embedded inside gloves, as a therapy for patients with vasoconstriction of the vessels of the fingers and toes. Socks with LEDs can be used for diabetic patients to enhance blood flow and treat chronic ischemic ulcers.

Berkowitz and his team discovered the exact wavelength of 455 nm at which opsin 4 gets activated, and the response of blood vessel relaxation becomes maximum. They used this wavelength of light to increase the flow of blood in the tails of normal mice, but that did not happen in the tails of mice that did not respond to opsin 4.

Blue LED light can treat diabetic patients

Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians University, Germany, and Imperial College London have used a blue light sensitive molecular switch into a drug called sulfonylurea compound that is used to regulate blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetic patients.

They used the synthetic molecular switches, which can be changed by light along with natural receptor proteins for specific signaling molecules. The chemical switches make the receptor dependent on blue light. The team found that blue light sensitive molecular switches can be used to control biochemical signaling in living cells. These light sensitive drugs can be used like a pill that can help irradiating a patch of skin with blue LED. When the blue LED light is switched off, the drug does not work. The team said that it has to go a long way before they can use this therapy to treat type 2 diabetic patients.

Photo caption: Researchers experimenting with blue LED

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