back to article Boffins: Blue light kills MRSA 'superbugs'

American medi-boffins say they have developed a way to kill so-called "superbugs" - deadly infections which can't be cured using antibiotics - by simply shining a certain wavelength of blue light on them. They believe the technique could be used safely on patients infected with MRSA*. "It is inspiring that an inexpensive …


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  1. s

    Nothing new here... Move along now, move along....

    We've been using UV-light for sterilisation for an age now in pharmaceuticals and hospital practice.No surprise MRSA is vulnerable - why wouldn't it be. It's bacterial-spores which are damnedibly resistant to light-sterilisation, like some Weaponised bioweapons ( ).

  2. Hollerith

    one at the door of every ward

    So that doctors and nurses, who are the ones (mainly) who spread it, can get their hands zapped as they walk in.

  3. JingoJones

    Other safe places?

    Does this mean that all Blu-Ray discs are MRSA free?

  4. Barry
    Thumb Up

    Finally, a used for chav'd-up cars

    Get the risky MRSA'd patients out of the hospitals and leave them in the nearest Halfords carpark. With all blue washer-jet lights, and the like, they'll be cured in minutes.

  5. paulc

    exposure time

    I can't find anything related to how long you have to expose the bacteria to this light for...

    ah... 3J/cm2 dose (to kill half the bacteria) required 100 seconds...

    note for those too lazy to actually read the article, doubling the dose does not kill 100% of the bacteria, even 20 times that still left 10% alive

  6. Wortel
    Thumb Up


    This should be most interesting for advances in inexpensive medical laser equipment.

    With solid state lasers one could create a compact, portable device for medical purposes as described in the article.

    Dr.McCoy is watching

  7. Paul Hands

    Not sure they thought this through

    Hmmmm. Seems to be another good idea which won't work well in the field. In body tissue, it may well be difficult to shine the light on the relevant bugs, as most body parts aren't see-through at those frequencies..

    The other concern is the inevitable rise of blue-light resistant strains.

  8. Simon Neill

    @Nothing new here...

    Whats new is that the wavelength is NOT UV! Its blue. Which means its more viable to use on a person.

    You could just cover the entire hospital in these blue LEDs and wipe out MRSA. With UV light everyone would get sunburn.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    sharks with lasers

    sharks with blue lasers, that'll solve all the nhs problems

  10. Stuart Halliday
    Thumb Up

    Blue Nose....

    So they need to shine this up people's noses when they come into a hospital?

    That'd be a photograph worth taking.

    (MRSA lives in the nose)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blue Light Discos

    I always new there was a reason to keep those Blue Light Discos* going.

    * (For the uninitiated, they were underage club nights managed by police community organisations - guaranteed to be alcohol, drug and violence-free).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm accepting bets ...

    ... on how long it will take some bright spark to market an "MRSA-zapping personal disinfectant torch" of the kind that they'll make clear you should "never leave home without".

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Methicillin isn't arse-kicking

    Methicillin isn't made anymore - it has been replaced by flucloxacillin. This group are used instead of penicillin to treat beta-lactamase producing bacteria. Beta-lactamase producing bacteria are resistant to pencillin. So to be methicillin-resistant is one step up from penicillin resistance. Antibiotics such as vancomycin and linezolid are used for MRSA infections, but MRSA seems to cause more problems than MSSA even with treatment.

  14. Wortel

    @ A.Coward

    You mean this?!/

  15. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Will Bug Zappers do it??

    PLUS !!! Average IQ now barely above that of house plant.

    After all, they use a blue light; or how about marketing a range of "medical" light tubes to use in the existing light fittings in the hospital wards, then every exposed surface is going to get "blued" without having to worry about morons not following hygiene instructions.

    An idea on how dumb the average adult is these days; last night I attended a launch for a new Speech and Language campaign; apparently TALKING to your child or baby improves their language and speech (and bears crap in the woods, Pope Catholic etc).

    After taking 30 seconds to explain this to the massed crowd of childcare professionals, they spent the remaining 1 hour 59 minutes and 30 seconds showing people how to open and use the interactive DVD that accompanied the booklet.

    (Note to Crapita, if you are going to publish such a DVD in the future, bearing in mind that not everyone will have Silverlight, Marcomedia, etc, installed on their PC; it might be an idea to INCLUDE any necessary program files on the disk!!)

    Mines the one with the pockets filled with pilfered biscuit packets (Belgium Chocolate Cookies).

  16. Simon B
    Thumb Up

    Excellent - nuff said

    Excellent - nuff said, let's hope it is for real :)

  17. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to buy up K-Mart stock

    Or is that a US-only thing?

    @Ian: I don't think it's really "dumb", it's something more like "numbed by massive repetition and expecting more of the same."

  18. Luther Blissett

    Nothing new here... Move along now, move along....

    This was originally discovered in the 1920's by Royal Rife, and subsequently suppressed by Big Pharma (and perhaps also the nu eugenicists) as it strongly suggested a cure for cancer as well as pretty much no need for antibiotics. See for example The physical mechanism appears to be blasting cells with energy at their resonant frequency, which makes them shatter, much like the opera diva singing at the wine glass, and more regrettably the infra-bass torture chamber which does the same to people.

    The non-UV LEDs thing is just little-jack-hornerism. Optical filters exist which can block the UV. It will be interesting, now that resistant microbes are becoming a seriously problem, to see whether Good will emerge into the light of day, or whether the population-reduction agenda of Evil will continue.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Steri pen

    Wow News...

  20. Anonymous Coward

    If it kills the MSRA's it's gotta cause cancer...

    We just need enough time to prove this with testing on laboratory mice using the standard 10,000 times expected human lifetime technique..

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which bugs get zapped?

    Now we are getting a better idea of what frequencies will kill which bugs, can we please identify which frequencies of blue light will rid us of the denizens of the House of Commons.

    Now that is something I would definitely vote for. I have a little list, oh yes!

  22. Secretgeek

    @nothing new.

    I was quite happily tootling along with your conspiracy theory until you used the phrase '...population reducing agenda of Evil..' which, although it has a nice ring to it, is totally arse about face. Given that this planet is seemingly choking to death on the 7 billion of us and our by-products it would seem that the 'Good' thing to do would be to reduce our numbers somewhat.

    Have you ever considered the possiblity that the Flying Sphagetti Monster is up/out/in/beside there banging his head against a wall whilst saying...'Why don't they just get the point?'

  23. rhidian


    Another use for Blue lighting ... making it harder to see veins in public toilets, so hampers people shooting up ...

    I hope that's taken into account if they decide to introduce this into hospitals :p

  24. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Not 100% effective?

    Here comes Blue-Resistant Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Even the acronym is becoming too long.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Hmm..... blue lasers... that gives me an idea!

    I assume this can be strapped to various forms of shark......

    Its not a laser is it?............

    I'll get my coat....

  26. Efros

    Makes you wonder

    When the Red Light treatment for gonorrhea will be launched...

    Mines the white coat with the frayed cuffs.


  27. Mike


    so, if there is light in this wavelength then it will kill the bug, ok great i have an implimentation plan:

    we cover hospitals in devices which give off this blue light, but better than that we make them also give off the full visible spectrum of light, so they give off this light which contains this blue light as well as other colours so you can see properly, a multi-purpose device you see - we'll call this device a "light bulb"

    you take this "light bulb" and cover hospitals with them, not only do they let you see things, but as part of the light given off is in this blue spectrum that kills the bugs, the hospital is steralized and MRSA stops

    the fact that we already have hospitals covered in light bulbs yet still have a MRSA problem there tells me that it's not quite as simple as shining a light as they seem to be claiming - meaning this is pretty useless information for practical purposes

    i suggest we impliment a more effective solution in our hospitals - there is one solution which works extremely well that they might try, it's called "cleaning" and has worked extremely well accross the rest of the world

  28. Graham Marsden

    To quote from the sign on the toilet on Red Dwarf...

    ... Now irradiate your hands!

  29. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    So how much did 'Big Pharma' make

    From antibiotics in the 1920s? (hint: considerably less than anything)

    Conspiracy theorist cheerfully ignoring the facts since forever.

  30. Adrian Midgley
    Thumb Down

    Royal RIfe didn't.

    And the claims made about him and gadgets bearing his name are bunkum, quackery and the search for profit from the gullible.

    Blue light on the fingertips. Hmm...

  31. Adrian Midgley

    Blue lit keycaps?

    MRSA may well live in noses, but that's fine. What matters is when it is on fingers.

    And things fingers touch.

    So how about a keyboard illuminated in that wavelength of light so that each time a finger hits a key they both get a blast of blue?

    Individual LEDs in keys should do it, with as a side effect, encouragement to learn to touch type, so as to avoid glare.

  32. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    @Mike (Re: erm)

    "we cover hospitals in devices which give off this blue light, but better than that we make them also give off the full visible spectrum of light, so they give off this light which contains this blue light as well as other colours so you can see properly, a multi-purpose device you see - we'll call this device a "light bulb"

    It's a great idea, but you'll never be able to mass produce a cheap device to give off the full visible spectrum of light. Folks have been trying for 100 years and the best they've come up with is a rather red incandescent thingy. Even that is generally avoided in favour of a vomit-inducing green thingy. But if you can manage it, there are a *lot* of people waiting to give you a large amount of money.

  33. Farai

    I reckon...

    Blue light-sabres brandished by docs and nurses in brown/grey sack-cloth clothing haha! They'll have a red light mounted on their foreheads which will show where the spores are on your body, and as soon as they see them they whip out (ala Stewie from Family Guy's "whip") their sabres and start waving them around all over you!

    Wooooing wooooooing wooooooooooooiiiiiing!!!!!

    Mine's the one with the real light-sabre - may the force be with you!

  34. Walking Turtle

    Rife + Force + Fraud

    @ Royal RIfe didn't. By Adrian Midgley Posted Saturday 31st January 2009 19:15 GMT:

    "And the claims made about him [Dr. Royal Rife, MD] and gadgets bearing his name are bunkum, quackery and the search for profit from the gullible."

    No doubt re the quackery+bunkum factor Out There, my friend. Even so, there still are those fascinating frequency charts from the original research to be perused at thoughtful leisure. Also there's this bit of surviving fillum that can be viewed online these days; the microbe does indeed burst apart as described by others here. I, for one, have been bitten by me own dogma a time or three afore. So outright rejection of the Rife hypothesis is not in my inventory today, thank you.

    Fact: Any full-featured Linux suite one might name contains adequate frequency/waveform generation softwares with which to undertake a proper re-opening of Dr. Rife's dropped case. LADSPA, QSynth and JACK all have interestingly task-appropriate descriptions attached to them. I shall start there once I at last obtain the necessary "'Round Tuit".

    In plain fact, I think for myself re these "unproven" thingies - Rife's tech is not the only item on The List. It does not matter to myself what assertions may these days be made by anyone whose POV just might have been influenced by the all-pervasive media-drumming of commercial interests such as the American Medical Association, pharma, etc to the contrary re the controversial effectiveness of the basic tech; in absence of trustworthy verified indy-generated lab data, my own "idiotic" suspicion of actual vested-interest fraud (the force that was unleashed against Dr. Rife by the Bigg'uns was shattering, to be sure) remains unscathed.

    Aside: amanfromMars: You with me on this?

    Sooner or later, in my own copious spare time, I for one shall in due course arrange the appropriate output from the sound card of the ol' Linux box. (One gathers from what's aprently left of the shattered Rife research-bits online that full +/- A/C square-wave 'leccy might work best.) From that point, the gear be aught but a good old-fashioned ~100-volt dry cell battery (a dozen snap-terminal nine-volters'll do right well), a proper and appropriately biased wee series-connected switching-transistor hook-up, a ~100K-ohm current-limiting resistor for the probe, six to eight feet of signal wire, and a simple hand-held probe (a Biro casing'll do for the housing) in order to proceed immediately to practical testing.

    But why the determination to proceed? Something I read, of course. Something authoritative that appeared before my wondering eyes somewhere Webside, some few ongoing short years ago.

    Now, this initial input to me own planet-sized brain appeared long before my being clued to the Rife resonance theory by an interested family member several years back now. It had to do with a "new treatment" for tooth decay that Canadian Health Service dentists were reported to be implementing full-scale at that moment. It was said to work by means of some manner of mysterious "Special Probe Apparatus" (or words to that effect) that was clearly (by what the apparently US-authored article Left Conspicuously Out) never ever at all to be employed by anyone doing dentistry in the mercury-lovin' US of Artifice, No Matter What.

    Quasi-informative, pro-grade breathless and just a hint of sneer, I realized on "zooming out" a bit. The tech itself was being treated to the Media Ridicule Protocols of the Learned Elders of Murdoch, in other words. "Foolish Canuck Socialized Dentists" was the underlying tone. Bad monkeys all, them Murdochians. Stink-O!

    Well, having learnt a year and a half after that hack-job article that US-resident vested commercial interests had indeed pro-actively and criminally destroyed both Rife's lab and his career, hi-def microscope, reputation and all, who can live in denial of the evidence of that manner of tech's actual effectiveness, rare and thin though that evidence may indeed be? So how much of a fool must I be in order to distrust much if not all of the AMA's position on the matter?

    The "Unproven Technology" line is easily believed, of course. The rest of the twisty shrieking is rather suspect to my own reasonably open mind. But Nature and Science are kind to me today! Here is why I assert this:

    Since me own teeth are now in such an advanced state of decay due to the effects of having lived most of my retired life on the lower level of the US "Two-Tier Health Care System" ("Take an aspirin, shed two tears and get over it!"), I have every reason to expect that my own constantly rotting mouth parts will serve quite well indeed in the prototype testing phase.

    Why the fsck not? There is no dentist within my budget's reach anyway. The tech is billed as an essentially non-contact electrostatic-driven resonance effect from the start. So I cap the cut end of the signal delivery wire afore potting it up in the epoxy-cemented probe handle. So where is the risk of any self-harm here at all, hm? :)

    Promise: I'll reliably let on in a future El Reg forum once I am personally satisfied that the results are well in hand. Results shall be repeatably verifiable etc per standard lab research protocols and discipline. (I can do that.) In vitro and in vivo too. The necessary optical microscope is already a short walk nearby. Cameras, now them I got-ze in hand. Adapters 'tween the two are no big deal at all.

    No single suitable icon for this. It'd have to be Boffin+Penguin+Black Helicopter+JollyRoger, at the very least. Plus the fellow with the halo, and the heart too; also the Grey Guy... Oh yeah.

    I'll get me coat now. :)

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  36. skeptical i

    Blue lights nice, but what about good ol' bleach?

    Perhaps I am missing some knowledge, but it seems to me that whenever some "new" "improved" cleaning technology is introduced, new problems erupt (e.g., triclosan anti-bacterial agent found in most personal hygiene products encouraging growth of more powerful bacteria; neurotoxin insect killers resulting in resistant strains and human carcinogenic effects while boric acid has none of these problems) when tried and true cleaners are shoved to the back of the bin. Does anyone know why bleach is no longer widely used (for surfaces, obviously; I don't expect people to bathe in it) when, as far as I know, it is close to 100% effective and nothing is immune to it? (Besides the fact that it doesn't boost shareholder dividends?)

    Agree with Secretgeek on population: we have too many people on an already overtaxed planet and while the idea of selecting certain groups to be "retired" is a can of worms best left sealed (even the most obvious candidate classes have exceptions), there has to be made better effort to teach people why having fewer offspring is better for them and everyone else. Of course, as I type this the 'Merkin media is still burbling on about the woman who popped octuplets, after already having birthed six other spawn (I guess they don't sell condoms in her neck of the woods).

  37. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Samsung, the un-sung heroes

    MRSA on your fingers (from picking nose??) ??

    No worries, just use your Samsung NS10 laptop for a few minutes ( calling up the next patients notes), and hey presto, the silver nano elements embedded on the keyboard's surface will kill the nasty bugs, leaving your finger-tips sparkly clean.

    (Samsung, you know where to send my cheque).

    Mine's the one with the netbook sized pockets.

  38. Dan


    I suspect this would be more helpful if the light were not in the visible spectrum, since then you could simply leave them running overnight on the ward. Wouldn't disturb sleep, but would eliminate the majority of the bacteria.

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