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Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation: “The Cure That Time Forgot”

Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation: “The Cure That Time Forgot”

In the wake of coronavirus-caused sepsis and drug resistant bacteria, perhaps it is time to reconsider using treatments once used decades ago.

President Donald Trump’s comments at a recent Coronavirus Task Force briefing led to distorted press reports implying that he proposed drinking bleach and Lysol to fight coronavirus.

However, his remarks have led others to explore another technology he mentioned: Ultraviolet Light Treatment.

In the wake of the briefing, the American media was quick to dismiss the statements related to the treatment. And those outlets that did cover the topic managed to locate “experts” to diminish the finding that the Wuhan Coronavirus could be killed quickly by UV light. This example comes from The Seattle Times:

“Sunlight definitely kills things. It’s just really slow,” said Andrea Silverman, environmental engineering and global health professor at New York University, who studies the role of sunlight in virus decay such as in natural wastewater treatment pond systems.

How long would it take to disinfect, for example, a glove hung outside in the sun? Retired biophysicist David Lytle has done modeling on sunlight’s impact in epidemics or in a potential bioterrorist attack with viruses such as Ebola or smallpox in a well-known research partnership with scientist Jose-Luis Sagripanti, then director of the Army’s high-level biosafety lab at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Aberdeen, Maryland.

Lytle calculated that on May 1, two to three hours of midday sunshine would be needed to kill microscopic coronavirus particles (not including larger globules) in Washington, D.C., and New York City, which receive similar amounts of sunlight in their respective positions near the 39th and 41st parallel north. On June 21, the summer solstice, it would take 1.3 to 2 hours.

“That’s impractical in the middle of a city with tall buildings” that cast shadows, Lytle said.

However, Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation (UBI) was once a respected form of treatment for infections. In the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, a team of authors including Dr. Michael R Hamblin of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital published a paper focused on an intriguing question: Ultraviolet blood irradiation -Is it time to remember “the cure that time forgot”?

Ultraviolet blood irradiation (UBI) was extensively used in the 1940s and 1950s to treat many diseases including septicemia, pneumonia, tuberculosis, arthritis, asthma and even poliomyelitis. The early studies were carried out by several physicians in USA and published in the American Journal of Surgery. However with the development of antibiotics, the use of UBI declined and it has now been called “the cure that time forgot”.

…Later studies were mostly performed by Russian workers and in other Eastern countries, and the modern view in Western countries is that UBI remains highly controversial. This review discusses the potential of UBI as an alternative approach to current methods used to treat infections, as an immune-modulating therapy and as a method for normalizing blood parameters. Low and mild doses of UV kill microorganisms by damaging the DNA, while any DNA damage in host cells can be rapidly repaired by DNA repair enzymes.

The process of UBI draws a small amount of blood from a person, then passes the blood through UV light. The blood is then returned to the patient.

The authors go through the history of the therapeutic use of the approach and conclude that in the wake of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the number of deaths due to sepsis that perhaps it is time to bring back UBI:

…Sepsis is an uncontrolled response to infection involving massive cytokine release, widespread inflammation, which leads to blood clots and leaky vessels. Multi-organ failure can follow. Every year, severe sepsis strikes more than a million Americans. It is estimated that between 28–50% percent of these people die. Patients with sepsis are usually treated in hospital intensive care units with broad-spectrum antibiotics, oxygen and intravenous fluids to maintain normal blood oxygen levels and blood pressure. Despite decades of research, no drugs that specifically target the aggressive immune response that characterizes sepsis have been developed.

We would like to propose that UBI be reconsidered and re-investigated as a treatment for systemic infections caused by multi-drug resistant Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria in patients who are running out of (or who have already run out) of options. Patients at risk of death from sepsis could also be considered as candidates for UBI. Further research is required into the mechanisms of action of UBI. The present confusion about exactly what is happening during and after the treatment is playing a large role in the controversy about whether UBI could ever be a mainstream medical therapy, or must remain sidelined in the “alternative and complementary” category where it has been allowed to be forgotten for the last 50 years, and sometimes referred to as “photoluminescence therapy”.

It is important to note that sepsis is one of the more severe effects being reported in coronavirus-infected patients, as pointed out by Louisiana State University researchers.

Most of the time, bacterial infections trigger sepsis. But [Dr. Bud] O’Neal believes that Our Lady of the Lake’s sickest coronavirus patients have sepsis not from bacteria, but from the viral pathogen that causes the virus.

Knowing early on whether a coronavirus patient is at high risk for sepsis could be a game-changer in making sure that those patients immediately receive aggressive treatment before they begin to deteriorate.

“We can identify those patients who are highest risk and admit them to the hospital, versus those who are lowest risk and send them home,” said O’Neal, who is also a critical care and pulmonology specialist and LSU Health Sciences professor who’s been treating intensive care coronavirus patients.

For those interested in a more detailed discussion of the medical history and development of UBI may enjoy this video.

In the fight against coronavirus, no one should ignore any important tool just because Trump mentioned it as a potential treatment option. It is troubling to think that there could be deaths that didn’t have to happen because of the ridiculous press coverage.


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2smartforlibs | April 28, 2020 at 6:10 pm

Oh, Really you mean exactly what Ceder Siani and the FDA have been working on??

Brave Sir Robbin | April 28, 2020 at 6:30 pm

No, this another application of UV light to treat seriously ill patients. This application postulates it could help with sepsis – not a viral infection. If could, according to the article, potentially help with some complications of COVID-19 infection, that is, sepsis, and thus be, in those instances, a potential treatment option.

I should also state that during the Spanish Flu epidemic, it was generally considered that sunshine and fresh air produced a marked improvement in afflicted patients. Patients were routinely hauled outside to lay in the sun and fresh air. It’s why people think to this day that sunshine and fresh out doors air is healthy, which, in fact, there is plenty of evidence as to being true.

    Throw in some time near a salt water ocean and you can cure all kinds of stuff by being outside.

      buckeyeminuteman in reply to NotKennedy. | April 29, 2020 at 7:14 am

      The hotels along the Dead Sea are full of many people, often sick ones. The salty, super hot air has higher levels of oxygen.

    However UV-C does kill viruses and id currently undergoing trials. Further, high intensity UV-ABC is used to sterilize operatories with great effect and will likely soon be used in many enclosed spaces. In Asia escalator hand rails are continuously treated with UV as they pass the lamp…something mysteriously missing in America.

That Dr in the video, why do alternative method Drs always look a bit crazy?

UV lights were in common use while I was growing up. In college I asked a Zoology prof why that might be. The prof’s off the cuff first thought was that the UV light caused a change in the tertiary structure of bacterial molecules thereby rendering them inert.

He was a smart guy for a hardcore union loving lefty. I don’t think that his politics got in the way of his science, at least at that time. Over time, being a lefty will eventually take a toll.

On the uptick, PhDs are a dime a dozen, maybe less in this eviscerated market place.

    Roy in Nipomo in reply to NotKennedy. | April 29, 2020 at 9:10 pm

    In the early ’50s my grandparents owned a funeral home. I remember they had a UV lamp or two in the embalming room. They worked hard to be careful as my great-grandfather died from a work-related infection in the ’20s when he owned the business.

Unbelievable. Between the ignoramuses in the MSM and the mono-focused ego maniac faculty in the grad schools, an unbelievable amount of knowledge is loss. Knowledge that a lay person such as myself is aware of an learned in high school or college decades ago.

UV lights are an optional feature for installation in air conditioning air handlers.

stevewhitemd | April 28, 2020 at 9:53 pm

The old County Hospital in Chicago had UV lights mounted above every door frame on the main hallways inside all the major buildings. They had a shield so that you couldn’t look directly at them, but they were on continuously. The idea was to help sterilize the air that was always moving through the building. Back when these were installed the issue was tuberculosis, and there was good data (for the 1920s) that UV light killed the TB bacillus.

Makes me wonder whether mounting UV lights in public places again might not be a bad idea…

BierceAmbrose | April 28, 2020 at 11:06 pm

Hanging a glove out in the UV will kill off any surface agents in some hours, says quoted-guy above.

So, take off your outer layer, n hang it on the side of the barn, untily you go out again tomorrow.

Or, rather than stay in file-cabinet “apartments” breathing shared air, try getting out. Only a citidiot would thing “getting out” means “rubbing up against a bunch of strangers.” Get out, get some alone time n exercise in the sun. Maybe putter in your yard or garden when you get home. Then hang up the outside clothes, n leave yr walking shoes in the mud room.

Why is this hard to grasp?

    rightway in reply to BierceAmbrose. | April 29, 2020 at 12:56 am

    Reread. He “calculated” the time. No doubt using his “modeling.” Which means he knows jack. Hey wild idea, do some actual experiments using the virus and UV light. That used be called the scientific method.

      BierceAmbrose in reply to rightway. | May 1, 2020 at 9:28 pm

      Yeah, models.

      So far two batches of press from two sets of experiments out of MIT(*), *measuring* how long the Kung-Flu lasts.

      Of course, the “no answers, please” folks will find someting to complain about.

      — Controlled experiment, they complain that it doesn’t represent the real world.

      — Observation out in the world, they complain that it wasn’t a controlled experiment.

      It’s like they don’t want there to be any answers. Or diretional information. Lots of established uses of UV to “sterilize” this or that. Unless the Kung-flu virus is immune to UV…

      (*) MIT Studies:

      First, published intially in MIT Technology review, of time to no longer finding viable virus particles on surfaces: 2 hours on copper, about a day on wood n cloth, 2-3 days on stainless steel n plastic. (That last is backwards of what I would have guessed.)

      Second, similar protocol, exposed to UV simulating outdor intensite. Net, about an hour in the noonday sun, on summer solstice in DC. About 2 hours about now in NYC. And about 4 hours in Feb.

UV can definitely destroy both viruses and bacteria (and any nucleic acids, really…even some proteins given enough exposure).

However, how would you prevent the destruction or DNA damage to the white blood cells? That would be the biggest conundrum to me. Red blood cells are enucleated, so they are not a concern (means lacking a nucleus with DNA)

There would be a fine line to walk with this treatment, somewhat like chemo (trying to kill the bad cells and leave enough good cells behind for the person to survive).

    txvet2 in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 29, 2020 at 1:19 am

    “”while any DNA damage in host cells can be rapidly repaired by DNA repair enzymes””

    From the above article.

      healthguyfsu in reply to txvet2. | April 29, 2020 at 1:53 am

      True but those systems can be overwhelmed by a heavy dose.

      It wouldnt be as simple with viruses who can hide within white blood cells

I’m really confused by these scientists. There is not enough sunlight to quickly kill COVID-19. But we can power our homes with solar panels? Can someone explain.

Paul In Sweden | April 29, 2020 at 7:06 am

“My name is Bill Bryan and I lead the Science and Technology Directorate at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
If you look at the fourth line, you inject summer — the sunlight into that. You INJECT UV rays into that. The same effects on line two — as 70 to 35 degrees with 80 percent humidity on the surface. And look at line four, but now you INJECT the sun. The half-life goes from six hours to two minutes. That’s how much of an INJECT UV rays has on the virus.

The last two lines are aerosols. What does it do in the air? We have a very unique capability — I was discussing this with the President prior to coming out; he wanted me to convey it to you — on how we do this. I believe we’re the only lab in the country that has this capability.

But if you can imagine a Home Depot bucket — a five-gallon Home Depot bucket — we’re able to take a particle — and this was developed and designed by our folks at the NBACC. We’re able to take a particle of a virus and suspend it in the air inside of this drum and hit it with various temperatures, various humidity levels, multiple different kinds of environmental conditions, to include sunlight. And we’re able to measure the decay of that virus while it’s suspended in the air. This is how we do our aerosol testing.

First, let me tell you what a “half-life” is. We don’t measure the virus as far as how long we live on the surface; we have to measure the decay of the virus in terms of its half-life, because we don’t know certain elements. We don’t know how much a person expectorates when he — when he spits — right? — when he sneezes, whatever the case may be. […] So if you look at an 18-hour half-life, what you’re basically saying is that every 18 hours, the virus — it’s the life of the virus is cut in half. So if you start with 1,000 particles of the virus, in 18 hours, you’re down to 500. And 18 hours after that, you’re down to 250, and so on and so forth. That’s important, as I explain in the rest of the chart.

If you look at the first three lines, when you see the word “surface,” we’re talking about nonporous surfaces: door handles, stainless steel. And if you look at the — as the temperature increases, as the humidity increases, with no sun involved, you can see how drastically the half-life goes down on that virus. So the virus is dying at a much more rapid pace, just from exposure to higher temperatures and just from exposure to humidity.

If you look at the fourth line, you inject summer — the sunlight into that. You inject UV rays into that. The same effects on line two — as 70 to 35 degrees with 80 percent humidity on the surface. And look at line four, but now you inject the sun. The half-life goes from six hours to two minutes. That’s how much of an impact UV rays has on the virus.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. So I asked Bill a question that probably some of you are thinking of, if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting.

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY BRYAN: We’ll get to the right folks who could.

THE PRESIDENT: Right. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by INJECTion inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.

So we’ll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that’s — that’s pretty powerful.

–Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing | The White House
-RETRIEVED-Wed Apr 29 2020 12:38:56 GMT+0200 (Central European Summer Time)

So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light
Is anyone else seeing “Operation — Annihilate!” flashbacks here? We should be really careful with this…….

(ST:TOS, episode 29, season 1)

harleycowboy | April 29, 2020 at 3:06 pm

What good will it do to “remove a small amount of blood”?