WARF: P120376US02

Treating Multiple Sclerosis with UV Light


Hector DeLuca, Yanping Wang, Steven Marling

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is helping develop a method to delay or alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis by irradiating patients with a narrow band of ultraviolet light.
OVERVIEWMultiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that afflicts more than 2.5 million people worldwide. Symptoms include weakness and numbing, pain, swallowing problems, blurred vision and difficulty moving. There is no cure for MS.

Several therapies, like anti-inflammatory steroids and immunosuppressive agents, have shown some promise for the treatment of MS symptoms. However, these treatments are associated with adverse side effects and are not effective for all patients.

While the exact cause of MS is unknown, sunlight and vitamin D production have long been thought to play a role. One piece of evidence is the fact that the disease is least prevalent at the equator and dramatically increases with latitude. Interestingly, new research suggests that light exposure – not subsequent vitamin D production – may be key to treating MS.
THE INVENTIONUW–Madison researchers have developed a method for suppressing MS symptoms by irradiating a patient with a narrow band of ultraviolet (UV) light. The light has a wavelength between about 300-315 nm. Patients could be irradiated using commercially available lamps or blankets. A typical treatment regimen could be 10-30 minutes of exposure for several days.
  • A cure for MS is a large and unmet medical need.
  • More than 350,000 individuals in the U.S. are affected.
  • 200 new cases are diagnosed each week.
  • Annual cost of MS in the U.S. is in the billions of dollars
  • Treating or delaying the onset of multiple sclerosis symptoms
  • Method is simple and drug free.
  • Low cost
  • Could significantly improve the quality of life for patients with MS
  • The wavelength of light is in the generally safe UV-B range.
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENTThe researchers have extensive data showing the efficacy of UV-B wavelengths to stop the progression of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of multiple sclerosis.
For More Information About the Inventors
  • Wang Y., Marling S.J., McKnight S.M., Danielson A.L., Severson K.S. and Deluca H.F. 2013. Suppression of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis by 300-315nm Ultraviolet Light. Arch Biochem Biophys. 536, 81-86.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Rafael Diaz at or 608-960-9847.
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