Australian researchers have found that exposure to measured doses of ultraviolet light, such as sunlight, could reduce asthma.

The research team at Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, through funding provided by the Asthma Foundation of WA (Western Australia), studied the effect of ultraviolet light on the development of asthma-like symptoms in mice, such as inflamed airways and lungs.

The study found:
    •     Exposure to ultraviolet light for 15 to 30 minutes before allergen exposure significantly reduces the development of asthma-like symptoms.
    •     This UV exposure produces a cell type that, when transferred into other mice before they’re sensitized to an allergen, can prevent the development of some of the asthma-like symptoms.

Associate professor Prue Hart, leader of the research team, is excited by the groundbreaking results and possible future applications.

“This research clearly shows that controlled exposure to ultraviolet light markedly limits the development, incidence, and severity of asthma symptoms in mice,” said Hart. “It appears that sunlight can suppress specific immune reactions, so we are now working to better understand that mechanism with the aim of generating new ways to prevent and treat this chronic disease. Given that overexposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer, it is important that we isolate and separate out the beneficial elements of ultraviolet light if we are to develop a safe and effective asthma therapy."