Medical Definition of ALA

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

ALA: 1. Alpha-linolenic acid 2.Aminolevulinic acid, a naturally occurring chemical in the body that is converted to protoporphyrin IX, a light-sensitive compound. Aminolevulinic acid has been used in the photodynamic therapy of skin precancer and cancer. In this therapy topical treatment with forms of ALA sensitizes the tissues to light. Then a special blue or red light depending upon the form of ALA used is then shone on the tissue to be treated. The reaction of the ALA treated tissues to the light source can kill cells.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018