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Light-Activated Treatment Kills Covid-19 Nasal Viruses

Red laser beam

Red laser beam (Nayuki, Flickr.

31 Jan. 2023. Clinical trial findings show a light-activated disinfectant process kills SARS-CoV-2 viruses in the nose causing Covid-19 infections without harming nasal tissue. Results of the trial — conducted in Spain and sponsored by the technology developer Ondine Biomedical Inc. in Vancouver, British Columbia — are reported in the 25 Jan. 2023 issue of the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Microbiology.

In most cases, humans are first infected with SARS-CoV-2 viruses in the nose, making nasal passages a prime target for new Covid-19 vaccines and therapies. The study assesses a process called nasal photo-disinfection, where red cold-laser beams activate methylene blue, a photo-sensitive chemical applied to the interior of both nostrils. Once activated, methylene blue produces reactive oxygen, unstable oxygen molecules that disrupt and destroy the negatively-charged cell walls of viruses and other microbes, while not affecting the neutrally-charged human nasal tissues. In addition, says Ondine Bio, the destruction of pathogen cells happens instantly, preventing a resistant response.

Ondine Bio offers a nasal photo-disinfection system called Steriwave that the company says kills a broad range of pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The company says Steriwave treatments are administered by clinicians, work within five minutes, are safe and painless, and can be used repeatedly with patients. Steriwave treatments are authorized or approved in Europe and Canada, but not yet in the U.S.

Found with SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant

The company sponsored the clinical trial, conducted by clinicians at a hospital in Pamplona, Spain affiliated with Clínica Universidad de Navarra. The study team enrolled participants testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 viruses, but exhibiting mild or no symptoms. Participants were first tested for SARS-Cov-2 viruses with polymerase chain reaction or PCR tests — the so-called gold standard Covid-19 infection test using nasal swabs — then randomly assigned to receive two nasal photo-disinfection treatments or a sham process with similar technology. The study team repeated PCR tests with participants after 3, 7, and 14 days, as well as checked for signs of adverse effects, with follow-up blood tests of antibodies and T-cell immune responses 10 and 20 weeks after infection.

The trial ended up enrolling 75 participants, nearly all previously vaccinated, with 38 participants receiving nasal photo-disinfection therapy, and 37 individuals receiving the sham treatments. That number is short of the original 100-participant target, but enough for statistical analysis. All participants, enrolled between Dec. 2021 and Feb. 2022, were previously healthy and found with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant.

Findings show after three days, recipients of photo-disinfection therapy report lower Covid-19 infection rates than sham process recipients, with also a lower probability of testing positive for Covid-19 after seven days, and fewer reports of typical Covid-19 symptoms. In addition, photo-disinfection therapy recipients have higher concentrations of antibodies neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins responsible for infections and greater T-cell immunity after 10 and 20 weeks than sham process recipients. Some 32 of the 75 trial participants reported mild adverse effects, mainly among photo-disinfection recipients, but none of the adverse effects were rated serious.

“The Clínica Universidad de Navarra study,” says Ondine Bio CEO Carolyn Cross in a company statement released through the London Stock Exchange, “sheds new light on the photo-disinfection treatment of respiratory viruses, where antibiotics are entirely ineffective and new anti-viral therapies are limited. As new SARS-CoV-2 variants rapidly emerge across the globe, we look forward to being able to play our part in helping our communities, hospitals, clinics, and emergency workers deal with these new threats.”

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