ASLMS meeting reflects industry breadth

The 25th annual meeting of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS), held March 30-April 3 in Orlando, FL, once again provided attendees the opportunity to review some of the latest research in a spectrum of medical disciplines and applications involving lasers and related light-based technologies.

ORLANDO, FL - The 25th annual meeting of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS), held March 30-April 3 in Orlando, FL, once again provided attendees the opportunity to review some of the latest research in a spectrum of medical disciplines and applications involving lasers and related light-based technologies. Organizers say it was the biggest ASLMS meeting to date, with nearly 2000 attendees (vs. 1600 in 2004) and 113 exhibitors (vs. 87 in 2004) and one of the broadest scientific programs in the conference’s history.

The technical program featured more than 350 presentations and reflected the increasingly diverse spectrum of laser applications in diagnostics and therapeutics. In recent years, the program has been very heavy in dermatology and plastic surgery. While the dermatology/plastic surgery sessions were once again the most numerous, this year saw a more balanced program overall, with the sessions in ophthalmology, optical diagnostics, and dentistry particularly strong.

“The ASLMS meeting has a long history of being first in the presentation of new lasers, new protocols, and new procedures across multiple disciplines,” said J. Stuart Nelson, ASLMS 2005 Program Chair and Associate Director of the Beckman Laser Institute (Irvine, CA). “This year’s line-up of top physicians and scientific sessions is no exception. The diverse program demonstrates how laser science is revolutionizing diagnostics, medical, dental, surgical, and veterinary practice.”

Among the scientific-session highlights were:

  • “Optical Sensor for Spectroscopic Detection of Breast Cancer during Needle Biopsy.” Lead researcher Changfang Zhu, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, presented promising results using a light-based probe to discriminate between malignant and nonmalignant tissue samples before they are removed. According to Zhu, combining a low-power ultraviolet and visible light source with needle biopsy helps in distinguishing between malignant and non-malignant breast tissue. The optical device used by Zhu and her team includes a light-based probe that is inserted into the hollow part of a biopsy needle. It works by illuminating the breast tissue and collecting data that is then analyzed by the device. The data that is collected reflects how the light interacts with tissue (fluorescence, absorption, and scattering); cancerous changes in tissue can affect these light-tissue interactions. Preliminary results show this technique discriminated between malignant and non-malignant breast tissues with an overall accuracy of more than 85%.
  • “All About Hair: How To Grow It and How To Remove It.” David McDaniel, M.D., assistant professor of clinical dermatology and plastic surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School (Virginia Beach, VA), presented first-time data from pilot studies using light-emitting diode (LED) photomodulation to stimulate hair growth and slow down hair loss. Since the technology also alters the gene expression, McDaniel and his research team studied pathways to alter the gene expression of hair in order to grow new hair and slow down hair loss.

“We found LED photomodulation stimulated three key factors known as VEGF, HGF, and MMP-2, thought to be responsible for hair regrowth with minoxidil,” McDaniel said. “Knowing that, we targeted patterns of hair loss using various parameters of the LED light energy to attempt to stimulate the activity of these factors.”

McDaniel’s team initially began looking at hair cells in the lab, using cultures with human dermal papillae hair cells to explore effects of photomodulation on gene expression. When they clinically tested the LED technology on pilot patients, Dr. McDaniel’s team found similar results in the human scalp biopsies of clinical patients as they did from their cell cultures.

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