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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Hope over laser 'that melts fat'
Woman's bottom
Cellulite causes an 'orange peel' effect
A laser which melts fat is being developed by scientists.

Experts from the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US said it could be used to treat heart disease, cellulite, and acne.

The laser is able for the first time to heat up fat in the body without harming the overlying skin.

Using the Free-Electron Laser at selected wavelengths, scientists were able to heat the fat up, which was then broken down and excreted by the body.

Professor Rox Anderson, dermatologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital, led the experiment using pig fat and skin samples about two inches thick.

While this laboratory research sounds exciting, we are a long way from knowing whether or not laser therapy of this nature could be developed into an effective treatment
Judy O'Sullivan, of the British Heart Foundation

He said the results showed that selective photothermolysis - heating tissues with light - could have medical applications in the future, including treating acne.

"The root cause of acne is a lipid-rich gland, the sebaceous gland, which sits a few millimetres below the surface of the skin.

"We want to be able to selectively target the sebaceous gland and this research shows that, if we can build lasers at this region of the spectrum, we may be able to do that."

Cellulite and body fat could also be targeted as well as the fatty plaques that form in arteries, leading to heart attacks, he said.

Professor Anderson added: "We can envision a fat-seeking laser, and we're heading down that path now."

However, researchers said it would be several years before the technique could be tested on humans.

The results of the research were presented to the annual meeting of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.

Judy O'Sullivan, cardiac nurse, at the British Heart Foundation, said: "While this laboratory research sounds exciting, we are a long way from knowing whether or not laser therapy of this nature could be developed into an effective treatment for people with heart disease."


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