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Ionizing radiation is widely used to inactivate pathogens. It mainly acts by destroying nucleic acids but causes less damage to structural components like proteins. It is therefore highly suited for the sterilization of biological samples or the generation of inactivated vaccines. However, inactivation of viruses or bacteria requires relatively high doses and substantial amounts of radiation energy. Consequently, irradiation is restricted to shielded facilities-protecting personnel and the environment. We have previously shown that low energy electron irradiation (LEEI) has the same capacity to inactivate pathogens in liquids as current irradiation methods, but generates much less secondary X-ray radiation, which enables the use in normal laboratories by self-shielded irradiation equipment. Here, we present concepts for automated LEEI of liquids, in disposable bags or as a continuous process. As the electrons have a limited penetration depth, the liquid is transformed into a thin film. High concentrations of viruses (Influenza, Zika virus and Respiratory Syncytial Virus), bacteria (E. coli, B. cereus) and eukaryotic cells (NK-92 cell line) are efficiently inactivated by LEEI in a throughput suitable for various applications such as sterilization, vaccine manufacturing or cell therapy. Our results validate the premise that for pathogen and cell inactivation in liquids, LEEI represents a suitable and versatile irradiation method for standard biological research and production laboratories.


Jasmin Fertey, Martin Thoma, Jana Beckmann, Lea Bayer, Julia Finkensieper, Susann Reißhauer, Beatrice Sarah Berneck, Leila Issmail, Jessy Schönfelder, Javier Portillo Casado, Andre Poremba, Frank-Holm Rögner, Bastian Standfest, Gustavo R Makert, Lia Walcher, Ann-Kathrin Kistenmacher, Stephan Fricke, Thomas Grunwald, Sebastian Ulbert. Automated application of low energy electron irradiation enables inactivation of pathogen- and cell-containing liquids in biomedical research and production facilities. Scientific reports. 2020 Jul 30;10(1):12786

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PMID: 32732876

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