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Light bulbs that kill flu virus
By Carmen Loren
Recent research may have found a way to safely use ultraviolet light to cure influenza. Scientists have known for decades that ultraviolet light is highly effective in killing bacteria and viruses by destroying the molecular bonds that hold their DNA together. This was discovered when researchers exposed a common strain of flu virus to the light of an ultraviolet lamp and found that the virus completely disappeared. UV light is routinely used to decontaminate surgical equipment in hospitals, but not for treating patients.
The problem with using this as a treatment for flu in humans is that if the dose is too high it can cause skin cancer or cataracts. Now a team of researchers from the Medical Center of Columbia University (US) has managed to adjust the dose so that the ultraviolet radiation kills the flu virus without any negative side effects. This opens the possibility that ultraviolet radiation could be used in hospitals, doctors' offices, schools, airports, airplanes and other public spaces to provide a powerful tool for control of both the seasonal flu and pandemics of influenza viruses.