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UA researchers receive grant to study green light therapy for HIV-related pain

Posted at 8:23 AM, Oct 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 11:24:53-04

Researchers at the University of Arizona received a grant to find out if green light therapy can help relieve HIV-related pain. 

According to a news release from the university, this comes after doctors discovered green light can help ease pain for people with migraines and fibromyalgia. 

READ MORE: Could green light therapy put a stop to your pain? 

Now the team of researchers has a $1.72 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health to study green LED in HIV-induced neuropathy. According to the release, "disorders of peripheral nerves are among the most frequent neurological complications of HIV infection." 

KGUN9 reported on the initial study led by the director of the UA pain center Dr. Mohab Ibrahim. He is also assisted by University of Arizona Pharmacology professor Raj Khanna. 

"Green light seems to be increasing the level of your endogenous opioids," Khanna said in 2017. "Not the opioids we all hear about that people are taking -- the epidemic and the abuse -- but your level of neurochemical endogenously change. And that's really what we think is how green light is bringing about the pain relief."

Before the researchers asked patients to spend a few hours a day under low powered, green lights they put rats under green lights or even fitted rats with tiny green contact lenses. The U of A has strict rules to make sure the rats are treated humanely. 

Thanks to the federal grant, Dr. Ibrahim and his team will study whether or not green light therapy can make life better for patients with HIV pain. Below is more from Dr. Ibrahim:  

"And we want to determine how can something as simple as greenlight have these biological effects. Therefore, part of the new grant is to explore the circuitry in the brain and the spinal cord to understand how shining light through the visual system can have such profound effects. And once we find out the mechanisms, then we can optimize and manipulate the system to make it even more efficient."

Dr. Ibrahim is assisted by multiple people from the university.