A ‘ray’ of hope for HIV treatment

By: Nathan Monk

JFK once said: “One person can make a difference, and every person should try.” For me, one such person is Lew Lim, entrepreneur and President of MaRS client MedicLights Research Inc.

Lew is building a medical technology business with the potential to profoundly impact the lives of those affected with HIV. MedicLights has developed an Intranasal Light Therapy device—portable personal-use technology that delivers light of a selected wavelength and dosage into the nasal cavity, a proven method of stimulating the body to accelerate healing and boost its immune system.

A low-cost, self-administering tool, the Intranasal Light Therapy device illuminates the blood capillaries in the nasal cavity with light in the visible red spectrum. Surprisingly, it’s easy to use, has no side effects, shuts off after 25 minutes and runs on one AA disposable battery.

MedicLights advocates intranasal light therapy systems as complementary to other medicines. According to the company spokespeople, the technology combines effectiveness, convenience and low cost to give people more ownership over their own health. Specifically with HIV, the intention is to help increase the CD4+T cell count.

The CD4+T cell count is the benchmark for indicating the severity of the disease, where 500/µL is now often considered the optimal lowest safe level (or nadir CD4). When it falls below 250/µL and is left untreated, the disease can progress to full-blown AIDS, with a life expectancy of less than one year.

Lew Lim, President of MedicLights

As they say, the proof is in the pudding. For Lew, the proof came last fall when he received the results from Shane, an HIV-positive patient who has graciously permitted us to share his story. Shane was the second HIV client to try the device.

Last November, Lew was moved to see that Shane’s CD4 count had gone up from around 450/µL to roughly 650/µL after using the Intranasal Light Therapy device for only two months. Prior to that, Shane had been taking the prescribed medications for four years, and for his two previous rounds of bloodwork, the count was showing a decline. Shane’s result validated the previous results of MedicLights’ first HIV test subject, Vadym, who had been using the device since June 2011 and reported similar success.

The following figure shows Shane’s change in CD4+T cell count:

The Intranasal Light Therapy device in use

Lew describes the safety and use of the device as follows:

“There is no significant safety issue. Light therapy of various forms has been tested continuously and used publicly since the first published paper on the potential of the ‘low-level laser’ in 1967. Some may argue that there is a safety issue with lasers even when they are of very low level (you are cautioned that staring at the light can damage the retina). However, Shane uses a non-laser, light-emitting diode (LED) version. The light is delivered at 8 MW (about 1/125 times the power of a small 1-watt mini flashlight). The treatment works because when light is delivered in this way, it excites  singlet oxygen molecules at low dosage and turns them into molecular messengers to tell the body to restore systemic homeostasis.”

Peter Adams, a MaRS Senior Health IT Advisor, is optimistic about MedicLights’ potential. “The international evidence for the safe use of light therapy is overwhelming, and we are excited to support pioneers like Lew Lim in developing intra-nasal therapy in North America.”

Overall, the impact of the device could be profound. We all know the cost of HIV is staggering for patients and the economy. We have to look no further than the recent Canadian AIDS Society report to see the impact—HIV/AIDS is costing Canadians $1.3 million per each new diagnosis of HIV.

We applaud Lew and MedicLights for their work in this space and the incredible impact the treatment could have on the HIV community.  As a result of the encouraging progress to date, Lew is in the process of securing evidence for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to validate the effect of Intranasal Light Therapy on HIV-infected patients.

If you are interested in learning more about this incredible treatment, please join us at MaRS to hear renowned speaker Professor Timon Liu’s lecture on the subject. Register here.

For more information on the product, please contact Lew directly:

MedicLights Research Inc. /  Tel: 416-795-9778 / www.mediclights.com

Reposted from MaRS Discovery District

Nathan is a Sr. Associate within the Info. technology, Communications and Entertainment (ICE) practice at MaRS. His focus and passion is to help our young consumer digital media and entertainment companies launch into the Canadian and global digital ecosystem.
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