Transfusions Just A Whiff Of Ozone Away?
lbert C. Baggs, Bsc. Medical
Canadian Medical Assoc; April 1993
Scientists in Canada and the United States are
investigating the use of ozone to destroy the human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV), the hepatitis and herpes viruses and other infectious
agents in the blood used for transfusion. The studies were endorsed
by medical circles of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
because of a concern that viral pandemics have compromised the
ability of world banks to meet urgent and heavy military demands.
NATO's fears are justified. The World Health
Organization (WHO) recently estimated that more than 200 million
people are long-term carriers of hepatitis B virus and that about
13 million people are infected with known HIV strains. The spread
of HIV is being impelled by socioeconomic factors and a worldwide
recession. As HIV spreads, an increase in the rejection rate of
blood donors, now exceeding 30%, must be expected.
Laboratories in Canada, the United States and
other countries have evidence that sterilization with ozone is
feasible. In a brief to the NATO Blood Committee, the Surgeon
General of the Canadian Armed Forces reported on Canadian findings
that a three minute ozonation of serum spiked with one million
HIV-1 particles per cc would achieve 100% viral inactivation.
It was also found that the procedure would destroy several other
lipid-encapsulated viruses, including simian immunodeficiency
virus (SIV) and various other animal strains.
Canadian interest in the technique stems from
early German successes in the 1950s, and from in-vitro studies
with ozone by Captain Michael E. Shannon, a scientist in the Department
of National Defence. His experiments led to a pilot study using
ozone-treated blood in a volunteer group of 24 patients with AIDS
at the Ottawa General Hospital (approved by the Health Protection
Branch and the hospital's ethics committee).
The Canadian experiments with HIV and other
viruses gas-exchange technology from Mueller Medical International
Inc. (Oakville, Ont.) with help from Medizone International Inc.
(New York). Two teams of U.S. virologists have used comparable
equipment to confirm the Canadian results. Red blood cells showed
no impairment in either study.
Ozone has long been used to destroy bacteria
in municipal water supplies. Its efficacy is partly attributed
to the oxidation of unsaturated bonds in the phospholipid and
lipoprotein architecture of bacteria, viruses and infected cells.
The oxidation generates hydro-peroxides, which are transformed
to peroxyl and hydroxyl radicals and to other reactive species,
including aldehydes. Peroxyl radicals attack proteins, and hydroxyl
radicals induce disruptive structural changes in cell membranes.
Virus-infected cells are unable to withstand the oxidation due
to deficient cell wall enzymes. Thus, at even low ozone concentrations,
infective agents can be destroyed selectively without damage to
Several other mechanisms have been postulated
for the destruction of HIV:
inactivation of viral reverse transcriptase,
which would otherwise take over host DNA
oxidation of the essential cation cofactor of the transcriptase,
interference with the ability of the HIV envelope glycoprotein
gp 120 to bind to the lymphocyte receptor CD4.
To prove these concepts, a pilot study was undertaken.
It was a collaborative effort between scientists at the Department
of National Health and Welfare, the Department of National Defence,
the Canadian Animal Disease Research institute and Cornell University,
It addressed the fundamental question: Will
whole blood experimentally contaminated with a highly virulent
strain of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) produce immunodeficiency
disease in primates if the blood is treated with ozone before
The answer came back loud and clear: Ozone protected
all simian subjects from infection by cleaning all viruses from
The systematic use of ozone in the treatment
of AIDS could not only reduce the virus load, but also possibly
revitalize the immune system. Several German and Italian studies
have shown that ozone enhances the production of interleukin-2
Findings at laboratories in North America and
Europe have demonstrated that ozone has remarkable potency against
disease factors in blood products. Blood approved for transfusion
must be certified to be free of viral and bacterial contaminants,
and ozone appears to fill the requirements.
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