What is the need?
Novel coronavirus 2019 (SARS-CoV-2) is a viral infection that replicates in the upper respiratory tract. Approximately 10-15% of those infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have a severe clinical course, with nearly 5% becoming critically ill requiring mechanical ventilation due to respiratory failure. Death resulting from COVID-19 is thought to be due to respiratory failure and/or secondary infections including ventilator associated pneumonia.
To date, there is no known treatment for COVID-19 or conventional means to reduce secondary infections in mechanically ventilated patients. Any safe and effective antiviral and antibacterial treatment option for these patients that could lower viral load and improve factors of respiratory failure would be advantageous.
Ultraviolet (UV) Light
Ultraviolet (UV) is a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths from 10 nm to 400 nm. These wavelengths are shorter than that of visible light. Between the wavelengths 100 to 400 nm ultraviolet radiation (UV light) is subcategorized into three different ranges: Ultraviolet C (UVC) 100 – 280 nm, Ultraviolet B (UVB) 280 – 315 nm, and Ultraviolet A (UVA) 315 – 400 nm.
UVC light is weak at the Earth’s surface since it is absorbed by the ozone layer of the atmosphere, however UVC from manufactured lamps/lights has been widely used as a commercial germicide. Radiation between the 200 nm and 300 nm wavelengths are strongly absorbed by nucleic acid (DNA & RNA), leading to nucleic acid damage, and resulting in inactivation of the organism or death.
While UVC light has broad germicidal properties, it is also harmful to mammalian (human) cells. Alternatively, UVA and UVB devices have been FDA-approved with indications to treat human diseases including skin lymphoma, eczema, and psoriasis. Of the three spectrums, UVA light appears to cause the least damage to mammalian cells. Recent advances in light emitting diodes (LEDs) have made it much more feasible to manufacture and apply narrow band (NB) UVA light to internal organs.
Proof of Concept
An abstract led by the team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was published in the United European Gastroenterology Journal, October 2019, titled “Internally Applied Ultraviolet Light as a Novel Approach for Effective and Safe Anti-Microbial Treatment.” Here, the authors show that UVA light exhibits significant in vitro bactericidal effects in an array of clinically important bacteria. Additionally, this is the first study using intracolonic UVA application, which reports that UVA exposure is not associated with endoscopic or histologic injury. These findings suggest that UVA therapy can potentially provide a safe and effective novel approach to antimicrobial treatment via phototherapy on internal organs.
* This has not been reviewed by the FDA. This device, or concept of this device is currently not indicated for use in the treatment of COVID-19.