Low-energy electron irradiation (LEEI) for the generation of inactivated bacterial vaccines
Vaccines consisting of whole inactivated bacteria (bacterins) are generated by incubation of the pathogen with chemicals. This is a time-consuming procedure which may lead to less immunogenic material, as critical antigenic structures can be altered by chemical modification. A promising alternative approach is low-energy electron irradiation (LEEI). Like other types of ionizing radiation, it mainly acts by destroying nucleic acids but causes less damage to structural components like proteins. As the electrons have a limited penetration depth, LEEI is currently used for sterilization of surfaces. The inactivation of pathogens in liquids requires irradiation of the culture in a thin film to ensure complete penetration. Here, we describe two approaches for the irradiation of bacterial suspensions in a research scale. After confirmation of inactivation, the material can be directly used for vaccination, without any purification steps.