Blue lights stop oral tumours growing

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Blue lights stop oral tumours growing


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Medical College of Georgia student Alpesh Patel examines how blue light stops oral cancer cells from growing. (DTI/MDG, Photo Phil Jones.)
Amy Connell, MCG

By Amy Connell, MCG

Wed. 11 June 2008


AUGUSTA, USA/LEIPZIG, Germany: The blue light used by dentists to harden dental fillings could also help to treat cancer, according to new research. A student at the School of Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia, USA, found the light halted the growth of tumours while doing tests on mice.

Alpesh Patel, who has been working with three other researchers on this project, studied ten tumour-bearing mice. He exposed half the mice to the blue light for 90 seconds a day for 12 days and left the other half untreated. When the tumours were extracted, he found there had been a decrease in the cell growth of the light-treated tumours.

Blue light, which is used by the latest generation of light curing units in dentistry, sends wavelengths of blue-violet light to the composite, which triggers hardening. The waves produce free radicals that activate a catalyst and speed up polymerisation of the composite resin. “In oral cancer cells, though, those radicals cause damage that decreases cell growth and increases cell death,” Patel said. Tissue analysis indicated an approximate 10 per cent increase in cell suicide.

“We’re thinking that some day, blue light therapy may serve as an adjunct to conventional cancer therapy,” Jill Lewis, dentistry professor at the college and co-researcher on this project added. “Patients may, therefore, receive lower doses of chemotherapy, which would decrease the adverse effects most cancer patients experience from standard chemotherapy regimens.”

(Edited by Daniel Zimmermann, DTI)

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