MAHWAH, N.J., April 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The author, Thomas Fagan is a retired executive of the Medical Technology Industry and founder of Global Pandemic Consortium which he organized to bring individuals, industry, academia and government together to work towards an effective COVID-19 therapy.
On April 23, 2020, after hearing a presentation on the effects of heat, humidity and ultraviolet light (UV) on coronavirus, President Trump opined on the possibility of using UV not just as an extracorporeal tool to disinfect surfaces and the air, but as a therapy to inactivate virus inside the body of a COVID-19 infected patient. Was the question, or the mandate to investigate that possibility as crazy as some suggest?
Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma (CTCL) is often referred to as cancer of the immune system. It is a type of cancer that begins in white blood cells called T cells (T lymphocytes). In cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, the T cells develop abnormalities that make them attack the skin. A leading standard of care treatment approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma is… are you ready? …. ultraviolet light.
According to Mayo Clinic, a procedure called extracorporeal photopheresis is a widely used treatment for Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma.
According to John Hopkins Medicine extracorporeal photopheresis is a therapy used to kill lymphoma cells in the blood. The blood is sent through a machine that exposes it to a special UV (ultraviolet) light. The light kills the lymphoma cells. The blood is then returned to the body.
Photopheresis was first introduced in a 1987 New England Journal of Medicine publication as a procedure in which blood is treated with a photosensitizing agent and subsequently irradiated with specified wavelengths of UV light. Specifically, white blood cells and platelets are separated from whole blood, mixed with a chemical, exposed to ultraviolet light and returned to the patients blood stream. The photochemically (UVA light + chemical) damaged T-cells returned to the patient induce cytotoxic effects on T-cell formation. Evidence suggests that this treatment is effective in the treatment of graft-versus-host disease. It has also been used successfully in the treatment of epidermolysis bullosa acquisita when all other treatments have failed. Photopheresis is also used as an experimental treatment in patients with cardiac, pulmonary and renal allograft rejection, autoimmune diseases, nephrogenic systemic fibrosis and ulcerative colitis. So, if UV light can reduce the occurrence of the body rejecting a transplanted organ, treat autoimmune diseases, fibrosis and colitis, maybe the President's question about the potential of UV light to treat COVID-19 and his directive to research it is not so crazy?
The truth is the use of ultraviolet light as a treatment for viruses is well established. In 1904, the Danish physician Niels Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on UV treatment of various skin conditions. In 1920 Dr. Walter H Ude reported a series of 100 cases of erysipelas (a cutaneous infection) with a high cure rate using UV irradiation. At the same time, researcher Emmett Knott reported on the use of ultraviolet blood irradiation (UBI), in patients suffering from pneumonia. In a series of 75 cases in which the diagnoses of pneumonia were confirmed by X-rays, all patients responded well to UBI showing a rapid decrease in temperature, disappearance of cyanosis, cessation of delirium if present, a marked reduction in pulse rate and a rapid resolution of pulmonary consolidation. A shortening of the time of hospitalizations and accelerated convalescence was regularly observed.
The use of UBI became more widely known in 1949, when Time Magazine published a story on using invisible ultraviolet rays to irradiate the blood as a treatment for some diseases, notably blood poisoning. The article reported on 22 children, aged three to 13 that were acutely ill with inflamed heart muscles that had their blood exposed to ultraviolet light in a machine known as the Knott Hemo-Irradiator. Twenty of the children left the hospital without signs of rheumatic heart disease and returned to normal activity; one died from another disease, and one "gained immeasurably." Doctors concluded that "UBI" was safe and may prove to be the best treatment available. (Time Magazine, June 13, 1949)
Even though a very promising therapy at the time, just as it was being widely used and accepted by the medical community antibiotics and vaccines were introduced and the study and use of UBI fell out of favor with the medical community. But the research of it as a potential therapy for various diseases continued.
In 2006, a team headed by this author conducted human trials reviewed and approved by the FDA using UBI for the treatment of hepatitis C and HIV. Additional research established the ability of UBI to inactivate the SARS virus. The unprecedented results - - dramatic reductions in viral loads - - and the hysteria around the fear of a H5N1 "bird flu" pandemic led the FDA to request that additional research be conducted on UBI as a possible therapy for H5N1. Results of that research that the FDA found to be compelling are summarized on the Global Pandemic Consortium website at https://globalpandemicconsortium.com/.
Today, instead of facing the fear of a potential pandemic like H5N1 was in 2006, we are in the midst of an actual worldwide pandemic - one that threatens our health and economic stability.
Thank you President Trump for asking about the use of UV light for the treatment of COVID-19. Your request to research it may not only result in identifying a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19, but a tool to better prepare for the potential second wave or any future pandemic threat.
There just may be light at the end of the tunnel ……ultraviolet light!
SOURCE Global Pandemic Consortium