Science 4 min read

New Study Suggests Using a Special UV Light to Kill Flu Viruses

Influenza A virus | Wikipedia |

Influenza A virus | Wikipedia |

Researchers revealed a new approach to exterminate flu viruses without harming human tissue.

Medical researchers from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) have discovered a new method to kill flu viruses. According to reports, the approach involves the utilization of a particular kind of UV light that won’t damage human skin or cause other harmful side effects.

In the study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers suggest that installation of overhead far-UVC lights in public establishments like schools, hospitals, planes, and airports “could provide a powerful check on seasonal influenza epidemics, as well as influenza pandemics.”

Researchers from @Columbia University Irving Medical Center discovered a new way to kill flu viruses without damaging human tissues. The method uses a special type of UV light known as far-UVC light. @ColumbiaMed #Medicine #FightFluClick To Tweet

Aside from killing airborne flu viruses without jeopardizing people’s safety, far-UVC light is also considered a cost-efficient way of eliminating deadly viruses and to prevent them from spreading.

“Unlike flu vaccines, far-UVC is likely to be effective against all airborne microbes, even newly emerging strains.”

Killing Flu Viruses Using Far-UVC Light

For decades, scientists have known that broad-spectrum UVC light with a wavelength ranging between 200 and 400 nanometers can efficiently kill bacteria and viruses by destroying the molecular bonds that keep their DNA together. Conventional UV light has been routinely used in the medical industry to decontaminate surgical equipment.

“Unfortunately, conventional germicidal UV light is also a human health hazard and can lead to skin cancer and cataracts, which prevents its use in public spaces,” Dr. David Brenner, a professor of Radiation Biophysics and director of the Center for Radiological Research at CUIMC, said.

Years ago, Dr. Brenner and a number of his colleagues hypothesized that far-UVC has the capacity to kill microbes without harming any healthy tissue. He said:

“Far-UVC light has a very limited range and cannot penetrate through the outer dead-cell layer of human skin or the tear layer in the eye, so it’s not a human health hazard. But because viruses and bacteria are much smaller than human cells, far-UVC light can reach their DNA and kill them.”

In a prior experiment conducted on both human and mouse skin, the team found that far-UVC light was able to kill methicillin-resistant S. Aureus (MRSA) bacteria, which is commonly known as a dangerous superbug, without damaging skin cells. Surprisingly, their recent study revealed that this narrow spectrum of UV light could also kill the airborne strain of H1N1 flu virus.

“Far-UVC light has a very limited range and cannot penetrate through the outer dead-cell layer of human skin or the tear layer in the eye, so it’s not a human health hazard,” Dr. Brenner further explained. Apparently, far-UVC light can effectively reach the DNA of the flu viruses and bacteria because they are much smaller than human cells.

Despite the success of their initial experiments, the efficiency of far-UVC light in eliminating flu viruses is yet to be confirmed.

“If our results are confirmed in other settings, it follows that the use of overhead low-level far-UVC light in public locations would be a safe and efficient method for limiting the transmission and spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases, such as influenza and tuberculosis,” Dr. Brenner went on to say.

To date, a far-UVC lamp can cost as much as $1,000. However, the researchers believe that the price will eventually drop once the lamp has been mass produced.

How do you protect yourself and your family from possible exposure to flu viruses?

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Comment (1)
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  1. Marc Sorenson February 17 at 4:46 am GMT

    UVB light has been used to sterilize areas, clothing and water. I suppose that UVC would work even better. A more important fact may be that sun exposure per se enhances the immune system and prevents flu before it takes hold. This can be easily seen by the fact that colds and flu occur in winter, whether in the Southern or Northern hemisphere. The mechanism may be vitamin D, which is not very available in the winter.

    The salubrious effects of sunlight extend far beyond halting flu, however. Consider the following:
    A 20-year Swedish study demonstrated a 23% reduced risk of all-cause death among those women who used sunbeds (tanning beds). Overall, women who actively sought the sun had half the risk of death compared with those who avoided the sun. Here are more facts:
    •A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip-fracture risk as those who avoid sun.
    •Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma.
    •Women who avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
    •Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
    •Sun exposure increases nitric oxide production, which leads to a decrease in heart disease risk.
    •Sun exposure dramatically improves mood through the production of serotonin and endorphin.
    Sun exposure increases BDNF, essential to the nervous system.
    More information:

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