# 1: 19 Jul 2008
helmet which beams infrared light into the brain could cure dementia
A helmet which beams low levels of infrared light into the brain could
be a cure dementia after the first patient showed signs of improvement.
By Rupert Neate
Last Updated: 11:04PM BST 19 Jul 2008
The treatment has
halted the aggressive memory loss of one man after just three weeks of
wearing the helmet for ten minutes twice a day. However, it is too soon
to know if the improvement is permanent.
Clem Fennel, a 57-year-old
company director from the US, had been unable to perform the simplest
of tasks before the treatment, but can now answer the phone and hold meaningful
His wife Vickey, 55,
said: "He was fading away. It is as if he is back. His personality
has started to show again. We are absolutely thrilled.
can tell you that within ten days the deterioration stopped."
After four neurologists
told Mr Fennel nothing could stop his mental decline, he flew to Britain
to become the first person in the world to undergo the treatment developed
by a family doctor in County Durham.
Dr Gordon Dougal invented
the helmet, which features 700 light-emitting diodes which are designed
to stimulate neurons in the brain, after seeing how successful the lasers
were at treating cold sores.
He said the success
of Mr Fennel's treat was "hugely significant," and hoped the
device could eventually help thousands of dementia sufferers. However,
a full clinical trial must be carried out before the helmet could be licensed
for public use.
A spokeswoman for
the Alzheimer's Society, which is campaigning for new treatments to help
700,000 British dementia sufferers, said: "A treatment that reverses
the effects of dementia rather than just temporarily halting its symptoms
could change the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people who live
with this devastating condition.
near infra-red treatment for people with dementia is a potentially interesting
"We look forward
to further research to determine whether it could help improve cognition
in humans. Only then can we begin to investigate whether near infra-red
could benefit people with dementia."
Article # 2: 15th July
More about this same
patient written on
makes 'amazing' progress after using infra-red helmet
By David Derbyshire
Last updated at 2:26
AM on 15th July 2008
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Two months ago Clem Fennell was fading fast.
The victim of an aggressive type of dementia, the 57-year-old businessmen
was unable to answer the phone, order a meal or string more than a couple
of words together.
In desperation, his family agreed to try a revolutionary new treatment
- a bizarre-looking, experimental helmet devised by a British GP that
bathes the brain in infra-red light twice a day.
To their astonishment, Mr Fennel
"Dr Dougal has been a godsend to our family. There was nothing anyone
could do to help Clem until now."
is too soon to say whether Dr Dougal's invention could help other sufferers.
The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and dementia can vary from day to day
- and relapses are not unusual. And not all patients may benefit from the
Dr Dougal stressed that a full, clinically controlled trial
would be needed before his anti-dementia helmet could be licensed for public
use. A trial of 100 patients is expected to start later this year.
"I made it clear to the Fennells that I didn't know for a fact whether
it would work or not, but the results are good," said Dr Dougal.
"He was monosyllabic when I first saw him, but if I ring up now he will
answer the phone. He didn't have the verbal skills to do that three weeks
Fennells have been told they can take the prototype helmet back to the US
with them so they can continue the treatment at home.
Commercial versions of the helmet will include 700 LEDs and cost around £10,000.
The Alzheimers Society said: "A treatment
that reverses the effects of dementia rather than just temporarily halting
its symptoms could change the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people
who live with this devastating condition.
near infra-red treatment for people with dementia is a potentially interesting
technique. We look forward to further research to determine whether it
could help improve cognition in humans. Only then can we begin to investigate
whether near infra-red could benefit people with dementia.
One in three people will end their lives with a form of dementia. Around
700,000 suffer from dementia - with more than half having Alzheimer's
Living with Dementia Magazine Living
with dementia, March 2008
The helmet heading for success?
Results from experiments at the Universities of Sunderland and Durham
have shown that when older mice are exposed to infrared light, their learning
abilities become as good as those of younger mice.
Dr Gordon Dougal hopes
this will help to prove that infrared light could be used to slow and
even reverse the symptoms of people's dementia.Working
with academic researchers, Dr Dougal plans to test whether a daily ten-minute
session wearing a special helmet can reduce confusion and improve thinking
Intrigued by the effect
Dr Paul Chazot is one of the neuroscientists based at Durham University
who is working with Dr Dougal on the research. He said, 'I was as sceptical
about this as anyone, but now with the results from the tests on mice
I'm really intrigued to know what effect the light is having on the brain.'
Infrared light sits
just out of our eyesight's reach. Dr Dougal, a GP with a background in
engineering, has been investigating the effect that certain wavelengths
of infrared light have on cells for many years.
In 1992 he discovered
that a narrow band of infrared light could help to boost healing in skin
cells, and has since developed a product that uses this light to treat
cold sores. However, the idea that light beams might also improve the
health of neurons such as brain cells has been with him for some time.
Dr Dougal says, 'I
tested the idea in 1998, on myself first. I was 42, just the age when
you start to notice your thought processing slowing down. After being
exposed to the infrared light I felt I could think a little faster and
most importantly there were no adverse effects. But the technology at
the time made it all quite cumbersome and definitely not feasible as a
treatment, so I shelved things for a while.'
Technology moved on
and reliable, inexpensive light sources that could produce the correct
wavelength of infrared light became available. Dr Chazot and his colleague
at the University of Sunderland, Dr Abdel Ennaceur, lead researcher on
the project, developed a simple behavioural test to investigate the effects
of light sources on the emotional state and learning abilities of mice.
Dr Chazot says, 'We
tested the learning ability of older mice in a maze compared to younger
ones. The mice were exposed to six minutes of infrared light for ten days.
The older mice took a little bit longer to make a decision, but they learnt
as well as the younger ones.'
So what is the infrared
light doing to the mice? Dr Chazot says, 'There's a clear effect, but
we're not sure yet what mechanism is causing it. Perhaps it's boosting
cell division in the brain, or raising the mice's metabolism. My bet is
that it's something to do with the immune system in the brain, but we're
working to pin it down.'
Heading for trials
Meanwhile, Dr Dougal is keen to test the effects on people and is planning
a small trial using a helmet that will beam the specific infrared wavelength
through the thinnest parts of the skull and into the brain. The low levels
of infrared light occur naturally in sunlight and are completely safe.
He says, 'We'll be
measuring the effect on people with mild dementia, looking at cognition
and short term memory. I'm particularly interested to see if there's any
effect on people's ability to carry out everyday tasks and improve their
quality of life.'
Results from the trial
should be available in the autumn. They could provide Dr Dougal with some
interesting answers for his doubters. 'In 1997 I was told that the cold
sore machine would never work, now it's available on the NHS. I really
don't mind the sceptics, it makes it so much better if it does work.'
Article # 3: January 3, 2009
Could LED Light
the way in the treating of Alzheimer's?
- light frequencies at the far end of the red spectrum - is used widely
in medicine, particularly in lasers to heal scars and reduce wrinkles.
But whereas lasers emit hot, high-energy light, low-level LED light is
cooler and causes no pain.
' It is thought to stimulate the growth of cells of all
types of tissue,' says Dr Abdel Ennaceur of the University of Sunderland,
who is assessing whether infrared light could reverse the symptoms of
Dr Ennaceur is testing a helmet that bathes the brain
with infrared light. By wearing it for ten minutes a day, it is hoped
that patients' memory and cognition will improve in just ten weeks.
'Cells have been found to grow 150 per cent to 200 per
cent faster than cells not given an infrared bath,' says Professor Harry
Whelan of the Medical College of Wisconsin, where trials of infrared light
for 80 seconds a day for two weeks prevented and treated throat and mouth
ulcers in cancer patients.
At the University of Tel Aviv, infrared light promoted healing in people
with nasal allergies.
So how does it work? 'At appropriate wavelengths and doses it is absorbed
by molecules inside cells called chromophores,' says Professor Chukuka
Enwemeka at the New York Institute of Technology. 'This energy is then
converted into a biological form that can be used to heal cells.'
Tissues can be triggered to grow back when exposed to
certain light frequencies. LED infrared light is within the 'healing range'
and can be absorbed up to a depth of 10cm.
It has been found to promote healing of skin, muscle, nerves, tendons,
bone and gums - even to trigger the regeneration of spinal cord tissue.
A range of health gadgets now harnesses infrared's healing
power, from combs for hair growth and lamps for acne, to wands that can
help cold sores to heal.
Dr Whelan says: 'LED infrared light might one day help
those who are paralysed to walk again. It could also prevent certain forms
of blindness. There are all sorts of potential uses.'
Do you have a success story? We would love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org
Article 4: 18th January 2009
Bestselling author Sir
Terry Pratchett has been testing out a revolutionary helmet which is claimed
to slow down or even reverse the effects of Alzheimers disease.
Science fiction writer Sir Terry, 60, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers
in 2007, wore the strange-looking headgear once a day for three months and
noticed a small improvement, his agent confirmed.
The prototype anti-dementia helmet, which must be worn for ten minutes each
day, was designed by British GP Dr Gordon Dougal.
by directing intense bursts of infrared light into the brain to stimulate
the growth of brain cells.
Low-level infrared is
thought to encourage cell growth in tissue and encourages it to repair.
Usual headwear: Sir Terry Pratchett
Dr Dougal believes it can reverse symptoms of dementia such as memory
loss and anxiety after just four weeks and experts have described it
as potentially life-changing.
He said: I have spoken to Sir Terry. He is very concerned about the
impact of his dementia on his work. He is scouring all of the latest literature
He was assessed by a computer-based system at the outset. Sir Terry
used the helmet for about three months. Over that period there was a small
improvement. Not significant, which was a bit disappointing, but it didnt
get any worse.
To ensure the helmet was a good fit, a friend of Sir Terry made a cast of
the authors head.
The helmet was then
clamped to the back of an armchair at the recently knighted writers
Sir Terrys literary agent Colin Smythe said: Yes, Sir Terry
was using some sort of helmet and I think its going to be in a TV
documentary which will be screened in February. He just wants to try everything.
Dr Dougal, from Peterlee, County Durham, has already developed a hand-held
gadget which uses the same technology to stimulate cold sores to heal
A clinical trial of the helmet is expected soon.
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