Study shows that blue light destroys antibiotic-resistant staph infection

JANUARY 29, 2009--Scientists at the New York Institute of Technology (Old Westbury, NY) say they have virtually eradicated two common strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, in the laboratory by exposing them to a wavelength of blue light. The researchers exposed bacterial colonies of MRSA to various doses of 470-nm light, which emits no UV radiation.

JANUARY 29, 2009--Scientists at the New York Institute of Technology (Old Westbury, NY) say they have virtually eradicated two common strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, in the laboratory by exposing them to a wavelength of blue light. The researchers--Chukuka S. Enwemeka, Deborah Williams, Sombiri K. Enwemeka, Steve Hollosi, and David Yens--had previously demonstrated that photo-irradiation using 405-nm light destroys MRSA strains grown in culture. In the current study, "Blue 470-nm Light Kills Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Vitro," they exposed bacterial colonies of MRSA to various doses of 470-nm light, which emits no UV radiation.

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections represent an important and increasing public health threat. At present, fewer than 5% of staphylococcal strains are susceptible to penicillin, while approximately 40%-50% of Staph aureus isolated have developed resistance to newer semisynthetic antibiotics such as methicillin as well.

The two MRSA populations studied--the US-300 strain of CA-MRSA and the IS-853 strain of HA-MRSA--represent prominent community-acquired and hospital-acquired strains, respectively.

The findings of the researchers' photo-irradiation work are described in a paper published online in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery (the article will appear in print in the April 2009 issue). The authors report that the higher the dose of 470-nm blue light, the more bacteria were killed. High-dose photo-irradiation was able to destroy 90.4% of the US-300 colonies and the IS-853 colonies. The effectiveness of blue light in vitro suggests that it should also be effective in human cases of MRSA infection, and particularly in cutaneous and subcutaneous infections.

"It is inspiring that an inexpensive naturally visible wavelength of light can eradicate two common strains of MRSA. Developing strategies that are capable of destroying MRSA, using mechanisms that would not lead to further antibiotic resistance, is timely and important for us and our patients," says Chukuka S. Enwemeka, PhD, FACSM, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal and first author of the study.

More information:
The paper Blue 470-nm Light Kills Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Vitro in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery.

Posted by Barbara G. Goode, barbarag@pennwell.com.

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