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Open AccessArticle

Pathogens Inactivated by Low-Energy-Electron Irradiation Maintain Antigenic Properties and Induce Protective Immune Responses

Fraunhofer-Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI, Perlickstrasse 1, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Fraunhofer-Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, Winterbergstrasse 28, 01277 Dresden, Germany
Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, Nobelstrasse 12, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany
Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, Nobelstrasse 12, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany
Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Plasma Technology IGVP, University of Stuttgart, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Curt Hagedorn
Viruses 2016, 8(11), 319;
Received: 6 October 2016 / Revised: 15 November 2016 / Accepted: 16 November 2016 / Published: 23 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Antivirals & Vaccines)
Inactivated vaccines are commonly produced by incubating pathogens with chemicals such as formaldehyde or β-propiolactone. This is a time-consuming process, the inactivation efficiency displays high variability and extensive downstream procedures are often required. Moreover, application of chemicals alters the antigenic components of the viruses or bacteria, resulting in reduced antibody specificity and therefore stimulation of a less effective immune response. An alternative method for inactivation of pathogens is ionizing radiation. It acts very fast and predominantly damages nucleic acids, conserving most of the antigenic structures. However, currently used irradiation technologies (mostly gamma-rays and high energy electrons) require large and complex shielding constructions to protect the environment from radioactivity or X-rays generated during the process. This excludes them from direct integration into biological production facilities. Here, low-energy electron irradiation (LEEI) is presented as an alternative inactivation method for pathogens in liquid solutions. LEEI can be used in normal laboratories, including good manufacturing practice (GMP)- or high biosafety level (BSL)-environments, as only minor shielding is necessary. We show that LEEI efficiently inactivates different viruses (influenza A (H3N8), porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1)) and bacteria (Escherichia coli) and maintains their antigenicity. Moreover, LEEI-inactivated influenza A viruses elicit protective immune responses in animals, as analyzed by virus neutralization assays and viral load determination upon challenge. These results have implications for novel ways of developing and manufacturing inactivated vaccines with improved efficacy. View Full-Text
Keywords: pathogen inactivation; low-energy electron irradiation; vaccines; influenza A pathogen inactivation; low-energy electron irradiation; vaccines; influenza A
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Fertey, J.; Bayer, L.; Grunwald, T.; Pohl, A.; Beckmann, J.; Gotzmann, G.; Casado, J.P.; Schönfelder, J.; Rögner, F.-H.; Wetzel, C.; Thoma, M.; Bailer, S.M.; Hiller, E.; Rupp, S.; Ulbert, S. Pathogens Inactivated by Low-Energy-Electron Irradiation Maintain Antigenic Properties and Induce Protective Immune Responses. Viruses 2016, 8, 319.

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