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ABSTRACT

The objective of this study was to determine whether photochemical inactivation of viruses could be accomplished with high efficiency while preserving the molecular integrity of viral targets allowing subsequent diagnostic tests to be performed at a lower level of containment and cost. We studied the effect of 5-iodonaphthyl 1-azide (INA) and amotosalen (AMO, also known as S-59), which are photochemicals known to target either viral proteins or nucleic acids, respectively. We found that vaccinia virus (VACV, an orthopox virus with a DNA genome) and pixuna virus (PIXV, an alphavirus with an RNA genome) were stable when irradiated with UVA alone or when exposed to either INA or AMO in the dark. AMO followed by UVA exposure was at least 1000-fold more virucidal than INA/UVA on vaccinia and pixuna viruses treated under similar conditions. Photoinactivation with either INA or AMO at conditions that abolished viral infectivity resulted in only minimal impairment of subsequent ELISA and PCR testing. The results presented in this study should assist in developing methods to inactivate in the field environmental and forensic samples suspected of viral contamination, thus limiting the need for costly security and safety operations after an accidental or intentional viral release.