Using laser light to transform Adult stem cells rapidly

Researchers found that shining radiation on adult stem cells promotes their growth 54% higher.
Shining radiations on stem cell promotes their growth.

Stem cell therapy require many specific types of human cells. Researchers from University of Johannesburg (UJ) discovered that shining two light beams (near-infrared and green laser) transform adult stem cells rapidly. Flashing a near-infrared laser on adult stem cells obtain from human body fat replicate stem cells 54% faster. Following that with green laser, the stem cells changes into different types of cells faster and more efficiently. Hence, improved growth and differentiation is the outcome of these consecutive beams under laboratory conditions.

Many people carry some body fat. So, to lose this fat, they usually work out in gym or a change in their eating routine. This “belly fat” we dislike may someday become a source of a new personal form of medicine. Fatty tissues exits as primitive cells known as Adipose stem cells stored inside the human body. People of all ages contain these stem cells, that have the ability of change into heart, liver or bone cells. Theoretically, stem cells can be changed on demand in any type of cell that is needed to repair any part of human body. The present aim is to make this theory a possible reality in stem cell research.


Heidi Abrahamse, Ph.D., director of the Laser Research Centre (LRC) at the University of Johannesburg says that growing tissue like this in laboratory needs to take place faster and reliably. Therefore, they are testing different light beams to see which transform adult stem cells rapidly. “Currently, clinical trials using stem cell therapies for chronic diseases are not as effective as hoped. In those trials, they use chemical or biological ways of encouraging cell differentiation. We use laser light in a technique called photobiomodulation (PBM). We shine a laser light of a specific wavelength onto stem cells to stimulate a response. Therefore, our research aims for better ways to multiply and differentiate stem cells into various tissue cells,” Prof. Abrahamse explained.

Normally, in laboratory, researchers flash red and infrared laser light on stem cells. These wavelengths makes cells to produce more identical stem cells. This process is proliferation. Whereas, to repair any body part, it is also needed to change stem cells into the required type, a process known as differentiation. But red and near-infrared radiation do not appear to encourage differentiation much.

Using combination of radiation

Researchers used new set of laser light to make progress in field. They radiated Green laser light (525 nanometer wavelength) on adipose derived stem cells. Also, they flashed green and near-infrared (825 nanometer wavelength) consecutively on stem cells. “We wanted the advantages of both the near-infrared and green laser wavelengths, to get both proliferation and differentiation of stem cells. Combining the near-infrared and green laser light looks promising,” said Anine Crous, a postdoctoral at the LRC.

Use of near-infrared and green laser light in order resulted in 54% more growth in stem cells after 7 days than the control. The stem cells raise their cellular ATP. Cells also had much higher mitochondrial membrane potential. Hence, powerhouse of proliferated, differentiated cells could store more energy. “Using near-infrared and green make adipose-derived stem cells multiply rapidly. It also encourages sufficient differentiation. We will be investigating this approach further for regenerative purposes,” Dr. Crous added.


The research was done in laboratory on commercial cell lines. So, Human clinical trials have not been started yet. “As life goes on and the body ages, its repair mechanism waivers. Our cells get benched and don’t play the game as hard as they used to,” said Dr. Crous. “Luckily we have adipose stem cells concealed in our fat deposits. Along with future scientific treatments using lasers, we’ll be able to significantly enhance our bodies’ natural repair processes.

Dr. Crous concluded that, “I see this kind of regenerative technique as a step towards personalized medicine. One day it should be possible to avoid the hard-to-manage side effects of using a ‘standard’ chemical treatment. Everyone reacts differently to medical drugs. In future, ‘tweaking’ a stem cell treatment for a particular person should be effective, with minimal side effects.”