As living standards improve across the world, so grows demand for meat. Annual meat production is projected by the World Health Organization to increase from 218m tonnes in 1997–1999 to 376m tonnes by 2030.
Satisfying this huge demand comes with many challenges. One is to handle the dreaded foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which, apart from making animals suffer intensely, may lead to severe economic consequences, even bankruptcy of farming businesses, and also to a shortage of product.
Solution: Vaccines produced from mammalian cells
Challenge: Extreme care has to be taken not to damage the fragile cells.
The solution is a combination of vaccination, monitoring, trade restrictions and quarantines. FMD vaccines are the dominant veterinary vaccine. They are produced in a multi-stage process, using killed virus preparations grown in mammalian cell culture. To remove cell debris from the target proteins during the harvesting stage, centrifugation is common. Extreme care has to be taken not to damage the fragile cells.
“If cells break during separation, fragments might contaminate the product. This complicates downstream processing, affecting the quality; it might spoil the whole batch,” says Rikard Krook, Alfa Laval. “Our customers came to us with this problem, asking for a better solution.” Alfa Laval’s engineers have, for many years, been investigating and developing low-shear concepts for biotech separators.
Firstly, the patented disk inlet and more recently the unique fully hermetic, hollow spindle Culturefuge range of separators. Combining these technologies with steam-sterilisable units with high levels of containment for biologically hazardous applications, has been critical for success in this demanding industry. “Both the short- and long-term trends look good,” Krook says. “This applies to both animal health and human therapeutics. There is a huge pipeline of new generation vaccines, cancer drugs and monoclonal antibodies under development. Biopharmaceuticals are still in their infancy, and the only way is up.”
3 facts about foot-and-mouth disease
- FMD – also hoof-and-mouth disease – is a highly contagious viral disease that affects both domestic animals and cloven-hoofed wildlife.
- It typically causes blisters on the hoofs and in the oral cavity, as well as other serious symptoms. Affected animals generally recover but are often weakened and debilitated.
- There are seven strains with multiple subtypes, each requiring its own vaccine, which complicates control of the disease, as does the fact that the virus replicates rapidly.
Key component: Alfa Laval high speed separators
- Minimized contamination risk: Gentle handling of fragile mammalian cells. Gentle acceleration minimizes shear, fully hermetic design minimizes air-liquid interface, and a full-bore inlet means the process does not require equipment that may harm cells.
- Hygienic design: Materials are approved for biotech applications. Sterilization-in-place and cleaning-in-place.
- All-the-way support: The high speed separators come with full validation support and optional complete pre-delivery testing.