NASA LED technology becomes a medical device

The LED tech was used for growing plants on the International Space Station... but NASA scientists are finding a new use for it in the medical field.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

The light-emitting diode technology (turned medical device) was originally used to grow plants in space. But recently, the NASA technology is finding a new use in the Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Unit at a hospital at the University of Alabama.

It's being used to ease the pain of mouth and throat sores, common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

The Food and Drug Administration will review the device to see if this space technology has any real-world promise.

According to NASA:

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.

Less mouth sores means less hospital time for patients. Not to mention, it will be easier for patients to eat and consume the nutrients their recovering bodies need.

The energy is delivered by a system called Warp 75. The LEDs release energy in the form of wavelengths of light that stimulate cells that promote healing. The device uses the LEDs to deliver 12 suns worth of energy. From mouth lesions to diabetic skin ulcers to burns, this light healing device can minimize the side effects of treatment.

It will be interesting to see if this space technology spins out into a medical device to heal the wounds of cancer patients and more.

Whatever the fate of the technology on Earth, NASA is still interested in HEALS for medical treatment in space - imagining it could help heal any wounds that occur during long-term spaceflight.

Hat tip: High-Powered NASA Grow-Light Reduces Chemotherapy Side Effects [Popular Science]

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Photo:NASA/David Higginbotham

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