Research ArticleBlood Disorders

Noninvasive low-level laser therapy for thrombocytopenia

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Science Translational Medicine  27 Jul 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 349, pp. 349ra101
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf4964

Let there be light

Rather than platelet transfusion, noninvasive laser light therapy aimed at the whole body could stimulate platelet regeneration in vivo. A low number of platelets is characteristic of thrombocytopenia—a disease that can manifest from several different insults or from genetics, resulting in uncontrollable bleeding and death. Zhang et al. exposed mice to low-level laser light and found that it induced the generation of platelets from blood-producing cells, called megakaryocytes, in the bone marrow, in three different models of thrombocytopenia. The authors linked these beneficial effects to mitochondria and suggest that this mechanism would be conserved if the technology could be adapted for whole-body illumination of patients (something hinted at being already in the works).