A new medical technology that emits ultraviolet light inside the body could be used as a therapeutic to eradicate “a wide range of viruses and bacteria, inclusive of coronavirus,” a press release stated on April 20.
Just as the sun can directly kill certain pathogens through its ultraviolet light, so too can devices that utilize this same spectrum.
Pharmaceutical company Aytu BioScience is currently testing the “Healight,” a medical device that administers intermittent ultraviolet (UVA) light inside the trachea of a patient. It’s intended as a respiratory viral intervention with the “potential to positively impact outcomes for critically ill patients infected with coronavirus and severe respiratory infections,” the release stated.
The therapeutic was developed by a research team at the Medically Associated Science and Technology (MAST) program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The team is currently working with Aytu BioScience and the FDA to expedite a regulatory process for near-term use of the technology.
(Video courtesy of Aytu BioScience)
In the same week as this announcement, the White House also presented findings that support the use of UV light for the eradication of viruses.
During the coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on April 23, Bill Bryan, the head of Science and Technology for Homeland Security shared data asserting the powerful effects that solar and UV light has on the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, particularly when on nonporous surfaces such as door handles and stainless steel. Increased heat and humidity were also shown to reduce the half-life of the viruses, he said.
“The virus dies the quickest in the presence of direct sunlight,” Bryan said. “Very significant difference when it gets hit with UV rays.”
Now with the development of Healight, this new type of therapy is close to reality.
The technology has been in development since 2016, and a growing body of scientific data demonstrates the preclinical safety and effectiveness of the technology as an antibacterial treatment. The FDA has been looking at the data and considering how to enable human use for intubated patients in the intensive care unit.
Healight also promises broader applications “across a range of viral and bacterial pathogens,” the release states, including for bacteria implicated in ventilator-associated pneumonia.
“Our team has shown that administering a specific spectrum of UV-A light can eradicate viruses in infected human cells (including coronavirus) and bacteria in the area while preserving healthy cells,” said Dr. Mark Pimentel, executive director of MAST at Cedars-Sinai.
One of the inventors of Healight, Dr. Ali Rezaie stated: “Our lab at Cedars-Sinai has extensively studied the effects of this unique technology on bacteria and viruses. Based on our findings we believe this therapeutic approach has the potential to significantly impact the high morbidity and mortality of coronavirus-infected patients and patients infected with other respiratory pathogens. We are looking forward to partnering with Aytu BioScience to move this technology forward for the benefit of patients all over the world.”
Aytu BioScience has licensed exclusive worldwide rights to the Healight platform from Cedars-Sinai for all endotracheal and nasopharyngeal conditions.
Aytu BioScience CEO Josh Disbrow stated: “We are honored to be partnering with Cedars-Sinai as we believe the Healight therapeutic platform has the potential to help many patients during this coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
“This first-in-class technology has the potential to be a game-changer for clinicians treating patients infected with coronavirus and other respiratory conditions, and our team is working tirelessly alongside the Cedars-Sinai team to determine the safety and effectiveness of this device in humans.”