Inactivating pathogens using low-energy electrons

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Vaccines are currently a great source of hope for many people, as it is believed they will help to protect society against COVID-19 and pave the way back to a normal life. The current focus is clearly on coronavirus – but vaccines are also fundamental to combating other pathogens. A team of researchers from three Fraunhofer Institutes has now developed a method of producing vaccines that is faster, more efficient and more environmentally friendly than the conventional production process – and their efforts have earned them the Fraunhofer Prize for “Human- and Environment-Centered Technology”.

The methods available to produce vaccines have been known for decades. But a new production process for inactivated vaccines is set to make vaccine production faster, more environmentally friendly and more efficient than ever before while also reducing costs. Dr. Sebastian Ulbert and Dr. Jasmin Fertey from the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI in Leipzig, Frank-Holm Rögner from the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP in Dresden, and Martin Thoma from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart have been awarded the 2021 Fraunhofer Prize for “Human- and Environment-Centered Technology” on behalf of their teams.

Now the researchers are receiving the honour for developing a process based on low-energy electron beam technology that gently inactivates pathogens and also pathogenic agents and viruses and thus enables vaccines to be produced more efficiently and without the use of toxic chemicals.

Read more about the award and the methods developed by the three Fraunhofer Institutes in the current press release.

The video on the development of the new manufacturing process and the winning team can be found on YouTube.