Low level light therapy

An elective research project conducted by Krishna Suba, a 5th year Manchester Dental student, into the efficacy of Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT) as a treatment option, or adjunct, in a range of inflammatory conditions including periodontal disease. This was carried out in Birmingham Dental School and funded by a grant from Somanda.

It is not often that a dental student considers an academic or research career while still an undergraduate, but after attending the first annual British Undergraduate Dental Research Conference (BUDRC) in Manchester, Krishna Suba was enthused by the prospect of improving the effect of clinical treatment by research.

After an online search to see what sorts of projects were being conducted in Dental Institutes in the UK, she chose the LLLT project in Birmingham School of Dentistry because she felt “it had brilliant potential uses in dentistry”. After discussing the project with the staff at Birmingham, it was decided to look at the potential effect of LLLT on macrophages in periodontal disease.

She had to spend the first two weeks of her assignment familiarising herself with basic laboratory techniques before progressing on to understanding the specific study itself. Basically the experiment consisted of placing Apoptotic B cells and a specific type of macrophages in concentric microscopic chambers and photographing them every 10 minutes for 2 hours to determine the rate of migration of the macrophages to the B cells.

Apoptosis is programmed cell death and plays an important role in many diseased conditions. Many diseases like cancer and autoimmune disease involve either a failure of apoptosis to eliminate harmful cells or the inappropriate activation of apoptosis leading to loss of essential cells.

Having familiarised herself with the details of the experiment, for the final 2 weeks of her assignment she planned a variation of her own which was to determine the effects of two different wavelengths of low-level light (660nm and 810nm) on the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS), e.g. hydrogen peroxide, produced by the macrophages; ROS are the harmful radicals that antioxidants protect against.

She found the 810nm significantly reduced the amount of ROS production and offered some anti-inflammatory effect, while the 660nm had the opposite effect. Krishna presented her results at the INSPIRE Dental Research Conference at Kings College Dental Institute in the autumn of 2015, which was the first time she had created and presented an academic poster which was very well received.

She has followed this up with a questionnaire on LLLT at the Manchester Dental Hospital, for both patients and clinicians, to assess the current awareness and interest in the use of LLLT in dentistry.

We wish Krishna every success in whatever career pathway she chooses.

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