It is well known that germs can kill. This is evident with the recent near epidemic of C-difficile antibiotic resistant bacteria. Now there is a much needed solution that employs new electron beam technology for sterilization. This technology protects against bacteria, fungal infections, viruses and spores. It can prevent infection and save many lives.
This sterilization technique can be applied to medical products such as syringes and it can ensure germ free packaging. In the future it may protect people from infection that occurs during tissue transplant. Sterilization using electron beam technology is a process that penetrates target material with accelerated, high-energy electrons. It takes just few milliseconds to destroy the harmful DNA belonging to infectious vectors, eliminating their ability to reproduce.

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When tissue is connected with accelerated electrons, researchers can manipulate material properties that change tissue. There is a potential to replace current heart valve prosthesis transplant technologies that only have a lifespan of 15 years. Accelerated electrons have the ability to split chemical bonds and facilitate cross-linking of collagen molecules or peptide chains. Researchers verified cell tolerance to such sterilization on a variety of different cell cultures. The result was that new cell growth was diminished on tissue treated with toxic glutaraldehyde. But when cultures were modified with electron beams, significantly more cells survived and were capable of reproduction.

Cells remain functional when organic implants are sterilized with the new technology. An optimal penetration depth of electrons can be set to sterilize only the outer layer of the aorta.
A radiation dose of 22 kilogray will not harm blood vessel function. Yet bacteria deposited on the specimens is reliably destroyed in seconds. This treatment is ideal for use in tissue banks and operating room as well. Next research steps include construction of a custom sterilization device.

  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2016, September 6). Killing germs with electron beams. Retrieved from