UVB LED to boost photo-pharmacology applications

September 14, 2017 //By Julien Happich
In the Scientific Reports journal, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine have published a paper titled "Ultraviolet B Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) Are More Efficient and Effective in Producing Vitamin D3 in Human Skin Compared to Natural Sunlight", documenting that ultraviolet LEDs emitting in the 290 to 300nm range are particularly more efficient than sunlight at producing vitamin D3 in skin samples.

In an experiment carried out with Rayvio's 293nm LED, the UVB LED was found to be 2.4 times more efficient in producing vitamin D 3 in human skin than the sun in less than 1/60 th the time. The paper reports that just 0.52 minutes of LED exposure produced more than twice as much vitamin D 3 as when the samples were exposed to 32.5 minutes of sunlight.

The researchers expect their new study to lead to a new generation of technology that could be labelled as photo-pharmacology, in which the use of LEDs with targeted wavelengths can cause specific biologic effects in human skin to help treat and prevent chronic illnesses.

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with osteoporosis, rickets and other metabolic bone diseases and is more prevalent in northern and southern latitudes where sunlight is limited for a significant part of the year. A vitamin D 3 producing UV LED device could be used on skin areas that experience less exposure to sunlight such as upper legs and arms and abdomen and back thus minimizing risk for developing non-melanoma skin cancer. 

The UV LED device also emits a much narrower band of UVB light and thereby decreasing likelihood of skin damage that can occur when the skin is exposed to higher wavelengths of UV radiation.

"The potential of digital UV technology for phototherapy is enormous," commented Dr. Robert C. Walker, CEO of RayVio who provided the 293nm UVB LEDs, noting that in the U.S. alone, seventy-five percent of teens and adults are vitamin D deficient.

"Thanks to the work of the research team and the pioneering work of the Boston University Photonics Center on UV LEDs, we may soon see innovative treatment options like simple integration with a wearable device could aid millions of people."

Boston University School of Medicine - www.bumc.bu.edu

RayVio - www.rayvio.com