UV light with ties to Englewood company could be new tool in fight against COVID-19

Coronavirus

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — President Donald Trump’s comments about possibly injecting patients with disinfectants to treat COVID-19 may have overshadowed his remarks at the same time about the use of ultraviolet light. But the treatment of UV light has been studied in the lab before as a medical treatment.

“Supposedly we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or very powerful light,” is what Trump said last Thursday during a coronavirus briefing.

Few people may have known what the president was referring to but Josh Disbrow, the CEO of AYTU Bioscience in Englewood, did.

“There’s knowledge that UVA and really all UV light kills bacteria and viruses,” Disbrow said.

Disbrow’s company has a contract with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to distribute a medical device called Healight.

The technology is still under development but if it’s perfected, it could offer a revolutionary approach to treating intubated patients.

“They’ve already got the tube down their throat, obviously, delivering air and then this would go down the catheter would essentially slide down the tube opening. It would emit light, very bright, it’s a very specific wattage,” Disbrow said.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center does not have FDA approval to test their product for clinical use but is seeking Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the federal government.

One key is to prove the device is safe. Unfiltered UV light is dangerous to human cells.  Disbrow says Cedars-Sinai is developing technology that filters out dangerous UVC light and only uses UVA light to kill a variety of bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19.

“There’s a lot of hope and lot of candidates in the pipeline. This may be one that presents a unique option,” said Disbrow.

If the FDA approves a clinical study and if it shows real promise, AYTU BioScience hopes it could start delivering the tiny devices to hospitals within 6 months.

“The hope is to save as many lives as we possibly can as quickly as we can,” said Disbrow.

If Healight works as hoped, it could eventually be used to treat anyone who tests positive with coronavirus before they become deathly ill. It could also have broader applications to treat any hard-to-kill bacteria or virus, not just COVID-19. 

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