…. including the staff here at NWS until now. It is only by the sheerest thread of coincidence that the National Writers Editorial Staff member



became aware of this within the last week, after striking up a conversation with the very cool electronics engineer, Mr. George Wilson, at night near a campsite. The links to the NASA information is below. It is a mystery why this information is not common knowledge; to that end NWS is publishing the reports for the common good. Note: considering the current wildfires in


and related injuries, that this discovery by NASA has practical applications for burns according to the studies provided below.

NASA LINK 1 – Rapid Wound Healing


The Phase I effort achieved its objective of ascertaining and demonstrating the efficacy of light therapy using LEDs, alone and in conjunction with hyperbaric oxygen, in the treatment of wounds.

Phase II results in speeding the early phase of wound closure were particularly successful.

Doctors at the Medical College of Wisconsin have examined how LEDs can help heal oral mucositis (severe oral sores caused by chemotherapy and radiation), diabetic skin ulcers, and serious burns. (Preventing oral mucositis improves the patients' ability to eat and drink and may also reduce the risk of infections in patients with compromised immune systems.)


Wounds are slow to heal in a microgravity environment. Muscle and bone atrophy are well documented in astronauts, and various minor injuries have been reported not to heal until landing on Earth. LED therapy could keep what would be termed as minor wounds on Earth from becoming mission-catastrophic in space.

While under contract to NASA, QDI's LEDs have been utilized as part of a cancer treatment. In Special Operations, LED arrays could be used for improved wound healing and in the treatment of problem wounds, as well as speeding deconditioned personnel to full-duty performance.

LED usage has been approved by the Naval Special Warfare Command.



The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved human trials.

Research has focused on photodynamic therapy (PDT), an adjunctive cancer therapy in which light-sensitive, tumor- treating drugs are injected intravenously. LED light activation allows drugs to destroy cancer cells, leaving surrounding tissue virtually untouched. Offering substantial improvement over lasers, a LED probe produces longer-wavelength, broad-spectrum, near-infrared light, enabling both deeper and wider penetrations.

Quantum Devices altered the surgical probe to emit longer waves of red light to stimulate a drug called Benzoporphyrin Derivative (BPD), which delivers fewer side effects after surgery than similar drugs.


The NASA Light-Emitting Diode Medical Program –

Progress in Space Flight and Terrestrial Applications

Harry T. Whelan, M.D.1a,2,3, John M Houle, B.S.1a,

Noel T. Whelan1a,3, Deborah L. Donohoe, A.S., L.A.T.G.1a,

Joan Cwiklinski, M.S.N., C.P.N.P.1a, Meic H. Schmidt, M.D.1c,

Lisa Gould, M.D., PhD.1b, David Larson, M.D.1b,

Glenn A. Meyer, M.D.1a, Vita Cevenini3, Helen Stinson, B.S.3

1a Departments of Neurology, 1bPlastic Surgery and 1cNeurosurgery,

Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, (414) 456-4090

2Naval Special Warfare Group TWO, Norfolk, VA 23521, (757) 462-7759

3NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812, (256) 544-2121

Abstract. This work is supported and managed through the

NASA Marshall




– SBIR Program. Studies on cells exposed to microgravity and hypergravity indicate that human cells need gravity to stimulate cell growth. As the gravitational force increases or decreases, the cell function responds in a linear fashion. This poses significant health risks for astronauts in long term space flight. LED-technology developed for NASA plant grown experiments in space shows promise for delivering light deep into tissues of the body to promote wound healing and human tissue growth. This LED-technology is also biologically optimal for photodynamic therapy of cancer.


The application of light therapy with the use of NASA LED’s will significantly improve the medical care that is available to astronauts on long-term space missions. NASA LED’s stimulate the basic energy processes in the mitochondria (energy compartments) of each cell, particularly when near-infrared light is used to activate the color sensitive chemicals (chromophores, cytochrome systems) inside. Optimal LED wavelengths include 680, 730 and 880 nm. The depth of near-infrared light penetration into human tissue has been measured spectroscopically (Chance, et al 1988). Spectra taken from the wrist flexor muscles in the forearm and muscles in the calf of the leg demonstrate that most of the light photons at wavelengths between 630-800 nm travel 23 cm through the surface tissue and muscle between input and exit at the photon detector. Our laboratory has improved the healing of wounds in laboratory animals by using NASA LED light and hyperbaric oxygen. Furthermore, DNA synthesis in fibroblasts and muscle cells has been quintupled using NASA LED light alone, in a single application combining 680, 730, and 880 nm each at 4 Joules per centimeter squared.

Muscle and bone atrophy are well documented in astronauts, and various minor injuries occurring in space have been reported not to heal until landing on Earth. Long term space flight, with its many inherent risks, also raises the possibility of astronauts being injured performing their required tasks. The fact that the normal healing process is negatively affected by microgravity requires novel approaches to improve wound healing and tissue growth in space. NASA LED arrays have already flown on Space Shuttle missions for studies of plant growth. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved human trials. The use of light therapy with LED’s is an approach to help increase the rate of wound healing in the microgravity environment, reducing the risk of treatable injuries becoming mission catastrophes.

Wounds heal less effectively in space than here on Earth. Improved wound healing may have multiple applications which benefit civilian medical care, military situations and long-term space flight. Laser light and hyperbaric oxygen have been widely acclaimed to speed wound healing in ischemic, hypoxic wounds. An excellent review of recent human experience with near-infrared light therapy for wound healing was published by Conlan, et al in 1996. Lasers provide low energy stimulation of tissues which results in increased cellular activity during wound healing (Beauvoit, 1989, 1995; Eggert, 1993; Karu, 1989; Lubart, 1992, 1997; Salansky, 1998; Whelan, 1999; Yu, 1997). Some of these activities include increased fibroblast proliferation, growth factor syntheses, collagen production and angiogenesis.

Lasers, however, have some inherent characteristics, which make their use in a clinical setting problematic, including limitations in wavelengths and beam width. The combined wavelengths of light optimal for wound healing cannot be efficiently produced, and the size of wounds which may be treated by lasers is limited. Light-emitting diodes (LED’s) offer an effective alternative to lasers. These diodes can be made to produce multiple wavelengths, and can be arranged in large, flat arrays allowing treatment of large wounds. Our experiments suggest potential for using LED light therapy at 680, 730 and 880 nm simultaneously, alone and in combination with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, both alone and in combination, to accelerate the healing process in Space Station Missions, where prolonged exposure to microgravity may otherwise retard healing. NASA LED’s have proven to stimulate wound healing at near-infrared wavelengths of 680, 730 and 880 nm in laboratory animals, and have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human trials. Furthermore, near-infrared LED light has quintupled the growth of fibroblasts and muscle cells in tissue culture. The NASA LED arrays are light enough and mobile enough to have already flown on the Space Shuttle numerous times. LED arrays may prove to be useful for improving wound healing and treating problem wounds, as well as speeding the return of deconditioned personnel to full duty performance. Potential benefits to NASA, military, and civilian populations include treatment of serious burns, crush injuries, non-healing fractures, muscle and bone atrophy, traumatic ischemic wounds, radiation tissue damage, compromised skin grafts, and tissue regeneration.


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