WarDiNg oFF sEasoNal DEPrEssioN Has NEvEr bEEN THis Easy. JusT WEar a HEaDsET Daily For a FEW miNuTEs. F TExT roGer norum PHoTo StudIo p.S.v. / onnI KInnunen or many, winter means a series of badly slept nights and and inefficient days with low spirits and excess eating. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a serious condition suffered by those living in northern latitudes ≠ even up to 40 per cent of the Finnish population show symptoms. The condition is caused when the brain reacts to a lack of light by releasing moodaltering chemicals. Bright light therapy is a known treatment for SAD. Oulubased company Valkee has invented a new device to treat the winter blues, based on new findings in brain science. Their Bright Light Headset is a tiny iPod-like device which channels full-spectrum LED light through the ear canal directly to photosensitive regions of the brain, simulating the effects of natural light. Exposing the brain to light allows you to "increase the secretion of several `feelgood' neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine," says Valkee CEO Juuso Nissilš. Whereas bright light lamps often help only every other SAD patient, Valkee's clinical trials saw 90 per cent of patients experiencing total relief within four weeks after a daily dose of eight to twelve minutes. The headset ≠ now being used by thousands of Finns full-Spectrum led ≠ has been studied lIGht throuGh the for years in the ear canal SImulateS University of Oulu the effectS of cross-functionally in neurobiology, natural lIGht. psychiatry and brain biology. They recently proved that people are sensitive to light also outside the visual system. "The study shows that we have photosensitive proteins in brain cells that may react to light when exposed directly. These results are encouraging, especially for bright-light therapy channeled via ear canal direct to brain tissue," says professor Seppo Saarela, head of the biology department and leading the research in Oulu. Valkee received angel investment from such notables as Esther Dyson, a well-known catalyst of start-ups in information technology and ex-Nokia head Anssi Vanjoki. The company is now expanding its R&D to look at whether the device can help with disorders such as jetlag, migraines and other circadian rhythm sleep issues. www.valkee.com new light for cancer patients a TrEaTmENT iNvENTED aT THE uNivErsiTy oF HElsiNki briNgs NEW HoPE To mETasTaTiC CaNCEr PaTiENTs. aPPliCaTioN oF PHoToDyNamiC THEraPy is THE FirsT mETHoD To TaCklE iNoPErablE miCrosCoPiC mETasTasis, Too. T he spreading of tumor is the most difficult phase of cancer to treat, and is responsible for over 90 per cent of cancer-related deaths. Local metastases are typically removed in surgery or targeted by radiation therapy, while multiple-organ metastasis is treated with chemotherapy. Dr tuomas tammela has investigated the use of photodynamic therapy (PDT) in attacking one of the least studied routes of metastasis, the lymphatic system. When illuminated with infrared laser light, verteporfin, a light-activated cytotoxic drug, eradicates unwanted lymphatic vessels that spread invisible tumor cells. "These findings are new and exciting," says Tammela. "PDT could easily be combined with existing surgical techniques to destroy the lymphatic vessels draining from the tumour as well as the microscopic tumour cell aggregates residing within them." As both verteporfin and the photodynamic treatment concept are already in use in patients, the new type of use is expected to receive regulatory approval sooner than completely new drugs. 33
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