Vaccine inactivation

During vaccine production, viruses in the precursor solution are killed so that they cannot harm the patient. This is usually done using toxic chemicals. Fraunhofer researchers have taken a different approach and are irradiating the pathogens with electrons. There are several advantages to the new method. No toxic waste is produced. In addition, the pathogens are inactivated more quickly and with fewer molecular changes to the capsid (virus envelope), resulting in greater vaccine specificity. The advantages of vaccines produced in this manner are that they do not require the use of chemicals, the production processes are faster, and that considerably smaller quantities of vaccine can be administered.

  • In many traditionally produced vaccines, formaldehyde is employed to kill the viruses, but this also alters components of the virus important for the vaccine.
  • Researchers from four Fraunhofer Institutes have developed a new method that simplifies the inactivation of pathogens: irradiation with electrons.
  • In addition to studies on technological feasibility, the FEP also supports the effort through its expertise in systems and beam development
  • The research activities are being supported by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Electron beam technology for the treatment of liquids on bioreactors

Electrons can be helpful in many industrial areas. At Fraunhofer FEP we have used our extensive experience to effectively treat even small quantities of liquids with electrons in compact systems. The initial idea was to gently inactivate viruses and bacteria for the production of inactivated vaccines. Examples of inactivated vaccines include ones against influenza and hepatitis A. Our inactivation technology with electrons eliminates the need to use toxic chemicals. This ensures fast, highly reproducible and effective vaccine production.

Electron beam based inactivation of viruses and bacteria for vaccine production ELVIRA