They are hoping that this therapy could eventually replace a complex drug regimen as the first-line treatment of a parasitic skin infection common in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.
Researchers successfully treated the skin infection with heat therapy in two patients whose immune systems were deficient, which lowered their bodies' ability to respond to medication. Both patients have remained free of the parasitic disease, called cutaneous leishmaniasis, for more than a year since receiving the heat treatment.
That long-term effectiveness, especially in people with compromised immune systems, makes this one-time application of heat to skin lesions an appealing alternative to the conventional treatment for the infection-a series of about 20 consecutive daily drug injections that is rife with compliance problems, researchers say.
"The fact that this treatment worked in immune-compromised people over the long term means it should work in healthy people, and could become the first-line treatment," said Abhay Satoskar, professor of pathology at Ohio State University and senior author of the Lancet case report.his heat therapy worked on the form of the infection that attacks the skin, which is characterized by sores of various sizes that may or may not be painful.
The equipment used for heat therapy currently costs approximately 14,000, dollars and is portable so it could be used in rural environments.
The study will be published in The Lancet.