Top 100: The most desirable cars of all time

Bacteria-killing blue light used to stop infections

By

January 29, 2013

Blue light has been used to kill potentially-lethal Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria (pictu...

Blue light has been used to kill potentially-lethal Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria (pictured) in the skin and soft tissues of lab mice

Over the past few years, blue light has allowed us to understand heart problems, control brain functions, and activate muscle tissue. Now, another biomedical function can be added to its list – because it’s known to have antimicrobial qualities, it’s been used to stop infections of the skin and soft tissues.

According to the American Society for Microbiology, such infections are the second most commonly-encountered type in private practice, and the most common type presented in emergency rooms. Unfortunately, as bacterial resistance to antibiotics grows, other means of stopping these infections are increasingly needed.

In a proof-of-concept study, led by Dr. Michael R. Hamblin of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, an array of blue LEDs was used to treat infected burns on lab mice. More specifically, the blue light was used to selectively eradicate potentially-lethal Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria in the animals’ skin and soft tissues.

The results of the study were promising. All of the light-treated mice survived, while 82 percent of the untreated control group died. Additionally, unlike bacteria-killing ultraviolet light, the blue light wasn’t harmful to the animals’ own cells.

Although more research needs to be conducted, existing knowledge of blue light’s antimicrobial qualities suggests that bacteria would be less likely to develop a resistance to it than to antibiotics.

A paper on the research is scheduled to be published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, and can currently be accessed online.

Source: American Society for Microbiology

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
9 Comments

When I was a kid, my Mum used to make me sit in the sun for a while, if I ever got any infected sores on my legs. She said, that it helped fight the infection. I always thought it must have been the UV but now I wonder if it might have been the blue part of the spectrum instead (or as well). I'm sure, compared to a few LED's, intense sunlight probably has a fair dosage of light in the blue spectrum. Maybe the sun would work as well has some fancy blue LED device. Of course you'd have to mitigate the risk of sunburn.

Tommygun
29th January, 2013 @ 04:00 pm PST

There's quite a growing body of evidence that for defense against microbes, mechanical means are often superior to anything chemical.

Joel Detrow
29th January, 2013 @ 04:34 pm PST

Minin opened bactericidal properties of blue light in the 19th century

Vladimir Pavlovich Rtveliashvili
30th January, 2013 @ 07:02 am PST

Sounds great! I wonder if they could utilize these blue light LED's internally, to fight infections that are resistant to chemical treatment and that generally end up killing the patient (like sepsis from bowel issues)? Insert them through small openings and light em up!

Observer101
30th January, 2013 @ 08:50 am PST

I used to use a high intensity blue light to excite fluorescent proteins in my research. I spent a lot time with my fingers exposed to this light while I examined specimens for the fluorescence. My fingers got sore where they were exposed to this light. I started wearing opaque nytril gloves and the soreness went away. I'm not sure blue light is totally harmless.

John J. Peloquin
30th January, 2013 @ 02:21 pm PST

re; John J. Peloquin

You can die from drinking water at a rate your stomach will tolerate but even healthy kidneys cant process. Nothing is totally safe but blue light is high on the list.

Slowburn
30th January, 2013 @ 07:39 pm PST

I like the way you think Observer101.

MK23666
31st January, 2013 @ 08:27 pm PST

Light colour effects hormone production and regulates being awake and asleep.

You evolve in an environment that has varying light from none to mid day blue. Living in environments other than those we evolved under will adversely affect your health. Over exposure to blue light is not healthy.

OMG!! Has no one woken up to the fact that a healthy human is an 11:1 mix of bacteria to human cells. That's right you are a minority in your own body.

Both blue light and penicillin kill bacteria indiscriminately. In some cases killing off entire populations of bacteria that never come back which adversely affects your health in ways that might not all be obvious. Like your mental health or your taste in foods or even your dislike or like of other people.

I think the problem is that 1. we have never really had a complete survey of the entire population of bacteria that live in and on the human species, and 2. a better understanding of why and what is going on when bacterial production gets out of control causing problems with the natural processes. I think if we truly understood what was really going on then maybe we could correctly treat the problem without causing any damage.

Foxy1968
9th April, 2013 @ 08:54 pm PDT

It would be vary helpful to include some DATA!

Frequency?

Power level?

Length of time of treatment?

Anything at all besides just blue?????

Buzz Allnight
31st March, 2014 @ 10:47 pm PDT
Post a Comment

Login with your gizmag account:

Or Login with Facebook:


Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our 29,888 articles
Recent popular articles in Medical
Product Comparisons