Photodynamic therapy – PDT for short – is simple and is already being used successfully. Scientists at Marburg University therefore want to test PDT for its effectiveness in COVID-19 patients. They see many advantages.

What kills HI viruses in blood preserves could also work in the human body with sars-CoV-2. As soon as the safety release is available, scientists from the Department of Pharmacy at Marburg University therefore want to test photodynamic therapy (PDT) as a therapy option for patients with COVID-19. “This form of therapy is nothing new and without side effects,” says Prof. Udo Bakowsky, Managing Director of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy at the Philipps University, and is optimistic. PDT was developed for killing HI viruses in blood preserves – and is also used for this purpose. In 2015, PDT has already been tested for its efficacy on the mers corona virus.

The principle of photodynamic therapy is simple: a very thin laser is directed at vitamin B2. The vitamin was previously injected into the patient’s blood and interacts with viruses and microorganisms. As soon as the light source hits the vitamin, it destroys the genetic information of the viruses. Only the dead shell remains. “Because B2 is a substance produced naturally in the body, there are in principle no side effects,” says Bakowsky’s colleague Dr. Matthias Wojcik. In PDT, the laser enters the body through a cannula. “The patient does not feel any of this,” says Wojcik. Further approaches are already available in skin cancer therapy and for the defense against multi-resistant germs, the so-called hospital germs.

The Marburg researchers want to transfer their PDT analogously to corona patients. For example, they want to place the laser directly in the lungs of intubated patients and thus kill the viruses directly. Bakowsky estimates the duration of the treatment to be about 30 minutes a day, over a period of seven days. His colleague Prof. Frank Runkel, a member of the institute and also professor at the Technical University of Central Hesse (THM) in Giessen, also hopes that the tests will soon be allowed to start: “This form of therapy can be used quickly, is inexpensive, potentially effective and extremely gentle on the patient.