A high pressure neon arc lamp and method of using the same for photodynamic therapies is provided. The high pressure neon arc lamp includes a housing that encloses a quantity of neon gas pressurized to about 500 Torr to about 22,000 Torr. At each end of the housing the lamp is connected by electrodes and wires to a pulse generator. The pulse generator generates an initial pulse voltage to breakdown the impedance of the neon gas. Then the pulse generator delivers a current through the neon gas to create an electrical arc that emits light having wavelengths from about 620 nanometers to about 645 nanometers. A method for activating a photosensitizer is provided. Initially, a photosensitizer is administered to a patient and allowed time to be absorbed into target cells. Then the high pressure neon arc lamp is used to illuminate the target cells with red light having wavelengths from about 620 nanometers to about 645 nanometers. The red light activates the photosensitizers to start a chain reaction that may involve oxygen free radicals to destroy the target cells. In this manner, a high pressure neon arc lamp that is inexpensive and efficiently generates red light useful in photodynamic therapy is provided.
This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the United States Department of Energy to The Regents of the University of California. The Government has certain rights in the invention.