Columbia University and Ushio Enter Exclusive UV Lighting Technology License and Research Agreement

Columbia University’s ultraviolet (UV) light technology has been licensed to USHIO Inc., a Tokyo-based developer, manufacturer, and marketer of light sources and instruments.

Despite major efforts to keep operating rooms sterile, surgical wound infections remain a serious and stubborn problem, killing more than 8,000 patients each year in the United States alone and accounting for US $3 to $10 billion of annual health care costs. Simple, and effective tools are needed in the operating room to supplement hygiene, precaution, and antibiotics. More broadly, in health care facilities and beyond, tools are needed to disinfect both air and surfaces that may expose patients and others to health risks. \

Ushio and Columbia University cooperate on UV LED technology. (Columbia University/LEDinside)

The UV light technology developed by Columbia University’s investigators fills this need. Columbia University’s David Brenner, PhD, and his team have developed a sterilization system that selectively kills bacteria and viruses without damaging human cells/tissues, permitting prolonged human exposure. Dr. Brenner is the Higgins Professor of Radiation Biophysics in Radiation Oncology and Director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center.

The method uses one or more wavelengths within a range that is far from UVC radiation (e.g., the range of about 200nm to about 230nm) that can be generated by excimer lamps - e.g., KrBr (207nm) and KrCl (222nm) lamps. Preliminary studies show that such usage of the specified radiation provides the anti-microbial advantages of conventional UV lamps, while drastically reducing biological damage in human cells, compared with conventional UV lamps. Within such UV wavelength range, including the use of these specific UV wavelengths, can penetrate and kill bacteria. But at the cellular level, they cannot reach the nucleus of human cells, and at the tissues level, they cannot reach the sensitive cells in the skin epidermis or the eye lens. 

Potential applications for the technology include minimizing surgical-site bacterial infections, particularly from drug-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, and minimizing airborne and surface-based transmission of common viruses, such as H1N1, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, and extremely dangerous bacteria and viruses, including Dengue and Ebola; management of chronic wound infection, which currently accounts for about 5% of all Medicaid and Medicare spending; and sanitary use in devices such as hand dryers.

Development and research related to this technology at Columbia University was made possible in part by funding and support from the Columbia-Coulter Translational Research Partnership and through private donations.

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