Each year, over 600,000 Americans suffer from a stroke, and 25% of those strokes are fatal. Currently, the only therapy for an ischemic stroke patient is Plasminogen Activator (tPA), a drug designed to help dissolve the blood clot and restore blood flow to the brain, keeping further tissue damage from occurring.
However, transcranial laser therapy (TLT) is a two- to three-hour procedure in which infrared light is applied to 20 sites around the skull within 24 hours of the onset of a stroke. The light is used to stimulate the production of ATP (Adenosine-5′-triphosphate) in the mitochondria, a key element for neural development and the cell survival after a stroke.
Currently, two clinical trials have been performed (NEST1 and NEST 2) with a third underway. Results of the clinical trial indicated that 36.3% of the TLT patients (mild strokes) received successful outcomes compared to 30.9% for the control group. Patients with moderate to severe stroke showed a 51.6% improvement after being treated with TLT compared to 41.9% of control group.
Along with being debilitating, it costs $28 billion to treat stroke patients. I spoke with Dr. Norman Alan Paradis, M.D. and he said, Stroke is the third largest cause of death and the most common cause of disability. Outcomes are very dependent on early detection because the clock is running and a three-hour window doesnt leave a lot of room for error. There is a possibility of real therapies that will help salvage brain tissue and help improve the survival rate for stroke patients.
Ive been watching this technology for a while and recent results have shown that TLT has had mild success rate with ischemic stroke patients. But, there are two things to take into consideration: there is a large market and the technology is still in its infancy. As more studies are conducted, were getting closer and closer to patients having a viable treatment option to help them recover from the debilitating effects of a stroke.