On this episode of HealthMade Radio Dr. Michael Karlfeldt interviews Professor Michael Hamblin about the impact of light on our physiology and how the wrong light can tank our health, even if we are on the best diet available. A professor at Harvard he has published close to 300 papers, mostly on phototherapy for multiple diseases. One focus is the study of new photosensitizers for infections, cancer, and heart disease. A specialty of the Hamblin lab is the development of new animal models for testing PDT approaches. The study of how PDT can activate the host immune system to attack advanced cancer is a new direction in the Hamblin lab. A second focus is low-level light therapy (LLLT) for wound healing, arthritis, traumatic brain injury and hair regrowth.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses medications to make cancer cells and other abnormal cells vulnerable to high-intensity light energy, such as from lasers. It can be used to treat a variety of cancerous and precancerous conditions. Mayo Clinic
What is the difference between photodynamic therapy and low-level light therapy?
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a relatively new and exciting approach for treating cancers, infections and other diseases. Non-toxic dyes known as photosensitizers are administered systemically, locally or topically and accumulate in the tumor or other lesion. Illumination with (otherwise harmless) visible (usually red light, frequently from a laser) excites the sensitizer, which in the presence of oxygen, produces reactive oxygen species that mediate cytotoxic effects. Undesirable cells such as infectious microbial cells or malignant cancer cells can be selectively killed by this approach. Dr Hamblin’s lab has set up collaborations with several chemistry groups that provide novel photosensitizers for testing both in vitro and in vivo such as bacteriochlorins, functionalized fullerenes and synthetic dyes.
Low-level light therapy (LLLT) (light alone, no photosensitizer) can stimulate healing, prevent tissue death and relieve pain and inflammation. The molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie this effect are under investigation. We believe that reactive oxygen species are also involved and cause activation of redox sensitive transcription factors. Stem cells are particularly susceptible to the effects of light and can be induced to differentiate and proliferate. Applications of LLLT to healing and treatment of traumatic brain injury are being studied.
Michael Hamblin is a Principal Investigator at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, an Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Affiliated Faculty of Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology. He was trained as a synthetic organic chemist and received his Ph.D. from Trent University in England. He joined Wellman Labs in 1994. He worked initially in targeted photodynamic therapy (PDT) and prepared and studied conjugates between photosensitizers and antibodies or targeted proteins and polymers of varying charge.
His research interests are now broadly in the area of phototherapy for multiple diseases. One focus is the study of new photosensitizers for infections, cancer, and heart disease. A specialty of the Hamblin lab is the development of new animal models for testing PDT approaches. The study of how PDT can activate the host immune system to attack advanced cancer is a new direction in the Hamblin lab. A second focus is low-level light therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation for wound healing, arthritis, traumatic brain injury, psychiatric disorders, and hair regrowth.
Dr. Hamblin has published over 289 peer-reviewed articles, over 150 conference proceedings, book chapters, and international abstracts, and he holds eight patents. He has edited the most recent and comprehensive textbook on PDT entitled “Advances in Photodynamic Therapy: Basic, Translational and Clinical”. He also co-edited a book entitled “Photodynamic Inactivation of Microbial Pathogens: Medical and Environmental Applications”, an authoritative and comprehensive textbook entitled “Handbook of Photomedicine” with 70 chapters and 800 pages, a textbook entitled “Applications of Nanoscience in Photomedicine” and another comprehensive handbook called “Handbook of Low-Level Laser (Light) Therapy” is in press. Four other textbooks are in progress. He is Associate Editor of 7 International Journals including Photochemistry and Photobiology.
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