March 20, 2009

Researchers aim lasers at feet

U.S. researchers say they're working on ways to translate the success of laser eye surgery into a treatment for toenail fungus.

An estimated 23 million people in the United States have onychomycosis, a fungal condition that discolors and thickens toenails. Current treatments, which include anti fungal pills and topical applications, have relatively low success rates, the New York Times reported Friday.

Nomir Medical Technologies in Massachusetts said it has had success in early testing of a laser, called Noveon, that targets bacterial and fungal infections while preserving healthy tissue.

Preliminary analysis shows 76 percent of patients showed evidence of improvement after the Noveon treatment. A significant drop in fungus levels was seen in 74 percent of patients after two treatments.

The findings were presented earlier this month at the Council for Nail Disorders 13th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco.

Noveon lasers are currently used for cataract surgery, dental work and hair removal, the newspaper said.