Therapeutic application of light and electromagnetic fields to reduce hyper-inflammation triggered by COVID-19

Therapeutic application of light and electromagnetic fields to reduce hyper-inflammation triggered by COVID-19

Published April 2021

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Abstract

COVID-19 – related morbidity is associated with exaggerated inflammation and cytokine production in the lungs, leading to acute respiratory failure. The cellular mechanisms underlying these so-called ‘cytokine storms’ are regulated through the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling pathway and by ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species). Both light (Photobiomodulation) and magnetic fields (e.g., Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field) stimulation are noninvasive therapies known to confer anti-inflammatory effects and regulate ROS signaling pathways. Here we show that daily exposure to two 10-minute intervals of moderate intensity infra-red light significantly lowered the inflammatory response induced via the TLR4 receptor signaling pathway in human cell cultures. Anti-inflammatory effects were likewise achieved by electromagnetic field exposure of cells to daily 10-minute intervals of either Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF), or to Low-Level static magnetic fields. Because current illumination and electromagnetic field therapies have no known side effects, and are already approved for some medical uses, we have here developed protocols for verification in clinical trials of COVID-19 infection. These treatments are affordable, simple to implement, and may help to resolve the acute respiratory distress of COVID-19 patients both in the home and in the hospital.

Conclusion

Our experiments with InfraRed irradiation and Electromagnetic field exposure have resulted in significant reduction of inflammation in human cell cultures relating to COVID-19 induced pathology. The necessary instruments, particularly in the case of infrared light, are readily available at low cost with no toxic side effects. However, all of our work has been performed in cell cultures and, though highly suggestive, cannot represent proof of effectiveness. In fact, the only credible way to prove that this method is workable, safe, and effective is to perform carefully controlled clinical trial on COVID-19 patients who have developed lung inflammation. Given the urgency of the epidemic and its increasing cost in lives, we nonetheless hope that these initial studies will provide solid guidance to quickly translate our findings into clinical efficacy and would welcome the chance to collaborate on such future trials.

KEYWORDS: COVID-19, photobiomodulation therapy, electromagnetic fields, reactive oxygen species, inflammation, cytokine storms

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