Stefan Fennrich, Ulrike Hennig, Leila Toliashvili, Christian Schlensak, Hans Peter Wendel and Sandra Stoppelkamp
In the quality assurance of medical products, tests for sterility are essential. For parenteral pharmaceuticals, avoiding the presence of pyrogens is crucial. These fever-inducing substances (endotoxins and non-endotoxins) are not eliminated by standard sterilisation processes, and are biologically active once in the bloodstream, causing risks to human health, ranging from mild reactions (e.g. fever) to septic shock and death. Therefore, for injectable formulations, pyrogen testing is mandatory. Over the years, various pyrogen testing methods have been introduced, namely: in the 1940s, the rabbit pyrogen test, which is an in vivo test that measures the fever reaction as an endpoint; in the 1970s, the Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate (LAL) test, which is an in vitro test (with the haemolymph of the horseshoe crab) that specifically detects endotoxin; and in 2010, the Monocyte-Activation Test (MAT), which is a non-animal based in vitro pyrogen test that represents a full replacement of the rabbit test. Due to the ubiquity and biological significance of pyrogens, we are currently further developing the MAT so that it can be used for other applications. More specifically, our focus is on the detection of pyrogenic contamination on medical devices, as well as on the measurement of air quality. In addition, further improvements to permit the use of cryopreserved blood in the MAT, to overcome the limitations in the availability of freshly-drawn blood from human donors, are ongoing.