A consortium of four Fraunhofer Institutes (the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI, Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB) is developing a way of inactivating viruses and other pathogens based on low energy electron irradiation. This may aid the manufacture of more effective, safe and also more cost-effective vaccines.
Since as early as the 1950s, toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde have been used to inactivate pathogens for so-called killed vaccines (e.g. to fight influenza, polio or hepatitis A viruses). This procedure, which has barely changed since, marked a milestone in infection biology at the time, however it is still subject to various limitations to this day.
The chemical treatment, which can last several weeks, also destroys some of the pathogens' surface structures that the immune system could use to recognize and attack following infection. Drugs manufactured in this way either have to be administered in high concentrations or have to be boosted at regular intervals in order to offer sufficient protection – a fact that hampers their use in poorer and structurally weak countries.
“Inactivation by means of low energy electron irradiation could well be the next major milestone in vaccine research,” remarks Project Manager Dr. Sebastian Ulbert from Fraunhofer IZI, summing up the advantages of the new technology. The Fraunhofer consortium has been working for three years on this alternative technology for inactivation through application of low energy electron irradiation.
The project results show that the technology is fundamentally applicable to an entire spectrum of different types of virus (e.g. polio or influenza) as well as other kinds of pathogen (bacteria, parasites). Irradiation destroys the genetic substance the viruses need to multiply. Unlike chemical inactivation using formaldehyde, the structural proteins (antigens) that are vital to the immune response remain intact.
The hope is that this enables to the body to form much more specific antibodies against the pathogens, keeping it better protected. Ultimately, lower doses may be able to be used in vaccinations.
With a grant of USD 1.85 million, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is now funding the application of the irradiation technology in order to develop a new polio vaccine (Grant Agreement Investment ID: OPP1154635).
Fraunhofer FEP and Fraunhofer IPA are jointly developing the basic design of a prototype for an automated irradiation installation. This experimental unit should be installed at Fraunhofer IZI in Leipzig by autumn 2018. In this way, a novel, compact, and highly efficient technology for producing safe economical vaccines will be developed through the application of low-energy electron radiation. The Fraunhofer IGB is working in collaboration with the Fraunhofer IZI on the manufacturing and immunological characterization of the pathogens.
Further information about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
Annett Arnold | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP
Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides
16.07.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
The secret sulfate code that lets the bad Tau in
16.07.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Life Sciences
16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences