Light, Finsen and the Use of UV Light to Kill Harmful Bacteria

September 8, 2020 13:21:11

Many are counting on researchers and scientists to find treatments that could help manage coronavirus and eventually, a cure for the virus. However, not everyone is fully aware of the ups and downs of scientific discoveries that involve various clinical trials, testing on both animal and human subjects and the failures that come with these speculations.

Take for instance, just over a century ago, Niels Ryberg Finsen began his experimentation with the use of UV light to treat ailments. As there were no subjects who would’ve offered to be his test subjects, Finsen used himself to test his findings.

Finsen had studied medicine at the University of Copenhagen before moving to focus on his research. His illness, the Niemann-Pick disease, prompted his research to discover if both artificial light and sunlight could be used to treat different ailments.

He however picked Lupus Vulgaris, as his study ailment at random. While experimenting on a man who suffered from the disease, he discovered that the artificial light improved the disfiguring lesions on the man’s body. He developed the Finsen Lamp for this treatment procedure.

Other scientists also used light therapy to treat diseases such as varicose veins, TB, circulatory disorders and also degenerative diseases. However, after penicillin became widely available, the use of phototherapy to treat lupus declined.

Discovery of UV Lights

William F. Wells, a sanitary science instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health, hypothesized that a well-ventilated room that contained an ultraviolet lamp could get rid of infectious disease germs that were present in the air. Despite several studies, the hypothesis bore no fruits.

However, it wasn’t until the 1970s, when Richard Riley, who had worked in Wells’ lab published studies that showed how TB droplets in the air could be controlled using UV ventilation.

This prompted many research studies that discovered that UV lights could be used to disinfect drinking water by killing protozoa that was chlorine-resistant as well as in killing germs present on surfaces. From then on, the technology has been repurposed for various industries.

Today, the germicidal benefits of both artificial UV light and sunlight are the focus of attention once more with the spread of the coronavirus.

As a lot about the virus is still unknown, it would be unfair for us to ask scientists to speed up the process for a cure of that which no one knows anything substantial about. Instead, as we await a cure and watch this process play out, you are encouraged to wash your hands, observe social distancing and wear a mask when going outside. Hopefully, biomedical companies like DarioHealth Corp. (NASDAQ: DRIO) will come up with solutions that can bring this pandemic under control.

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