Transcranial Laser Therapy in Acute Stroke Treatment: Results of Neurothera Effectiveness and Safety Trial 3, a Phase III Clinical End Point Device Trial

Stroke. 2014 Nov;45(11):3187-93. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.005795. Epub 2014 Oct 7.


Background and purpose: On the basis of phase II trials, we considered that transcranial laser therapy could have neuroprotective effects in patients with acute ischemic stroke.

Methods: We studied transcranial laser therapy in a double-blind, sham-controlled randomized clinical trial intended to enroll 1000 patients with acute ischemic stroke treated ≤24 hours after stroke onset and who did not undergo thrombolytic therapy. The primary efficacy measure was the 90-day functional outcome as assessed by the modified Rankin Scale, with hierarchical Bayesian analysis incorporating relevant previous data. Interim analyses were planned after 300 and 600 patients included.

Results: The study was terminated on recommendation by the Data Monitoring Committee after a futility analysis of 566 completed patients found no difference in the primary end point (transcranial laser therapy 140/282 [49.6%] versus sham 140/284 [49.3%] for good functional outcome; modified Rankin Scale, 0-2). The results remained stable after inclusion of all 630 randomized patients (adjusted odds ratio, 1.024; 95% confidence interval, 0.705-1.488).

Conclusions: Once the results of the interim futility analysis became available, all study support was immediately withdrawn by the capital firms behind PhotoThera, and the company was dissolved. Proper termination of the trial was difficult but was finally achieved through special efforts by former employees of PhotoThera, the CRO Parexel and members of the steering and the safety committees. We conclude that transcranial laser therapy does not have a measurable neuroprotective effect in patients with acute ischemic stroke when applied within 24 hours after stroke onset.

Clinical trial registration url: Unique identifier: NCT01120301.

Keywords: acute ischemic stroke; clinical trials, phase III; transcranial laser therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Endpoint Determination / methods
  • Endpoint Determination / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / adverse effects
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Safety / standards*
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data