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2007 Research Grant Recipients


E. Duco Jansen, Ph.D.

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Primary Investigator:

E. Duco Jansen, Ph.D.

"Induction of Thermotolerance in Laser Irradiated Tissue"

Therapeutic laser applications, including those in dermatology, present a trade-off between delivering a therapeutic dose of laser radiation to the target tissue and minimizing damage to surrounding tissues. In response to a modest thermal insult, cells and tissues will produce a class of molecular chaperones – the heat shock proteins (hsp-s) - that will assist in refolding denatured proteins. The heat shock proteins have also been shown to provide increased tolerance to future thermal stress events, a process known as pre-conditioning. Here we propose to conduct a series of studies with the overall goal of inducing thermo-tolerance in laser-irradiated tissues such that treatment dosimetry may be optimized while minimizing collateral thermal damage.


Wangcun Jia, Ph.D.

Beckman Laser Institute/University of California

Irvine, CA

Supporting ASLMS Member:

J. Stuart Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.

"A Novel Approach to Port Wine Stain Treatment"

The proposed project is to develop a novel approach to port wine stain (PWS) treatment using multiple cryogen spurts applied intermittently with multiple laser pulse exposures (MCS-MLP). PWS is a congenital, progressive vascular malformation of human skin. The current treatment of choice is single cryogen spurt (for epidermal protection) and single laser pulse exposure (SCS-SLP). Although SCS-SLP treatment produces some degree of PWS blanching, complete PWS removal is rare. One reason for incomplete PWS removal is that large vessels can only be partially coagulated with SCS-SLP because blood in the center of the vessel lumen is inadequately heated due to the strong superficial light absorption by hemoglobin. As a result, these partially coagulated vessels subsequently recanalize leading to poor therapeutic outcome. In contrast, MLP has the potential to induce complete coagulation of large blood vessels when heat generated by previous pulses accumulates in the vessel, while the MCS actively maintains the epidermal temperature below the damage threshold. The feasibility of MCS-MLP has been demonstrated with numerical models and preliminary animal and human studies.


David Kouba, M.D., Ph.D

Moy-Fincher Medical Group

Los Angeles, CA

Supporting ASLMS Member:

Ronald L. Moy, M.D.

"Percutaneous Drug Absorbtion During Fractional Photothermolysis"

Our preliminary data suggests that fractional photothermolysis (using first generation devices that
required pre-treatment with topical lidocaine) has predisposed some patients to absorbing supratherapeutic levels of lidocaine into the systemic circulation. Newer generation devices no longer require topical lidocaine, but the FP mechanisms are still the same. Therefore, our proposal is geared at understanding the mechanism of percutaneous absorption of topical medications after FP.We have chosen a topical medication, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) cream, that is well described to cause dramatic and highly specific changes in skin extracellular matrix molecules so that we may easilly measure its effect when used with FP. In this project, will address the following two specific aims: Specific Aim #1: Ascertain with significant statistical power whether fractional photothermolysis-induced micropores in the skin can allow excess topically applied transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) to be absorbed. Specific Aim#2: Quantify the changes in gene expression in the skin that are induced by FP and TGFbeta combinations.


Thuy L. Phung, M.D., Ph.D.

Baylor College of Medicine

Houston, TX

Supporting ASLMS Member:

J. Stuart Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.

"Combined Laser & Topical Rapamycin Treatment of Pathological Angiogenesis"

We have developed a transgenic mouse model of pathological angiogenesis that recapitulates many features of tumor blood vessels and vascular malformations through endothelial cell-specific hyperactivation of Akt.We will use this animal model to test the hypothesis that the combined use of pulsed dye laser to induce blood vessel injury, and rapamycin (applied topically) to inhibit angiogenesis will prevent the recurrence of abnormal blood vessels following laser treatment. In this two-year study, we propose to (1) determine whether topical rapamycin inhibits pathological angiogenesis in Akt mice; (2) determine whether topical rapamycin inhibits revascularization of pathological blood vessels in Akt mice after laser treatment; and (3) evaluate the efficacy of FDA-approved Pentadecalactone as a safe and effective permeabilizing agent for transdermal delivery of rapamycin. This study involves an interdisciplinary team approach with expertise in laser medicine, vascular biology and topical drug formulation. The direct clinical application of this study is that it will provide the preclinical data needed to develop novel approaches involving anti-angiogenic agents in adjunct to laser therapy to improve therapeutic outcome in patients with port wine stains and possibly rapidly proliferating hemangiomas.


Cameron Riviere, Ph.D.

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburg, PA

Supporting ASLMS Member:

Philip Caushaj, M.D.

"Semiautomated Intraocular Laser Survey Using Handheld Instruments"

The specific aims of this two-year project are to develop semiautomatic techniques for patterned panretinal photocoagulation and laser grid photocoagulation, and to demonstrate these techniques in a chick chorioallantoic membrane model in vivo, as described in the retinal surgery literature. The principal investigator has developed a fully handheld active micromanipulator for intraocular surgery. The instrument senses its own motion and activates its own tool tip to compensate the hand tremor of the surgeon. In this project, we propose to adapt this instrumentation for laser surgery by incorporating a flexible waveguide, and to develop control methods for the device so that it can perform a variety of types of retinal photocoagulation procedures in a semiautomatic mode.


Chris Schaffer, Ph.D.

Cornell University

Ithica, NY

Supporting ASLMS Member:

R. Rox Anderson, M.D.

"Femtosecond Laser Ablation to Understand and Control Cortical Epilepsy"

In this project, we will explore the use of femtosecond laser ablation to provide a precise tool for making depth-selective, sub-surface incisions in cortex, and determine how these cuts affect normal and epileptic brain activity. Nonlinear absorption of tightlyfocused, femtosecond duration, near -infrared laser pulse provides a tool to disrupt material in a micrometersizedv volume located in the bulk of the tissue. Essentially, the laser provides a very precise scalpel that can cut inside a tissue without affecting the surface. We propose to first determine the appropriate laser parameters to produce cuts at different depths in the cortex of rats, while preserving the overlying vasculature. We will then study how sub-surface cuts at varying depths in cortex affect the spread of epileptic activity as well as the normal response to sensory input in rats. These experiments will lead to a greater understanding of where cuts should be placed to control neocortical epilepsy and may lead to a more controlled, laser-based implementation of a promising epilepsy treatment.


John A. Viator, Ph.D.

The Curators of the University of Missouri

Columbia, MO

Supporting ASLMS Member:

Guillermo Aguilar, Ph.D.

"Photoacoustic Detection of Circulating Breast Cancer Cells"

We propose the use of photoacoustics, or laser induced ultrasound, to detect CTC's in human blood samples. Photoacoustics occurs when the optical energy of a photon is transduced into a mechanical disturbance, resulting in an acoustic wave. The photoacoustic effect can be obtained from several different processes, including material ablation, in which laser light causes vaporization in matter, plasma formation, in which the laser energy density is so great it strips electrons from their associated nuclei, and thermoelastic expansion, in which laser energy is deposited into a confined region of matter such that rapid heating occurs followed by rapid expansion. This expansion causes a mechanical disturbance in the medium manifested as an acoustic wave. It is precisely thermoelastic expansion that we will exploit for detection of CTC's.

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participation in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.

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