24 March 2004
Clean space is out of this world
THE future of medicines' manufacture is right here in Birmingham. Aston University has become the first in the region to have a dedicated medical manufacturing clean room, which has been built thanks to a grant of over �660,000 from Advantage West Midlands. It will be used for the manufacture of specialist cancer and other drugs, which will be administered to children and adults across the Midlands.
The clean room, designed and built by specialist contractor Thermal Transfer, provides an ultra clean, sterile and controlled environment for pharmaceutical manufacture, research and teaching and will offer academics a complete specialist environment to support the development of new medicines such as gene therapies.
The special equipment within it will allow operators to work in a completely clean and sterile environment. Its rooms are temperature and humidity controlled to allow the aseptic production, manipulation and reconstitution of a variety of medical products (including chemotherapy drugs usually used in the treatment of cancer, individually tailored intravenous feeds for premature babies and new gene therapies) that cannot be sterilised commercially. There is a particular need in the Midlands for aseptic facilities to support the preparation of pharmaceuticals with a short shelf life - particularly in the treatment of children.
Dr John Marriott from the University explained: "The medicines that will be prepared in this unit are not like the ones you can buy over the counter. Custom medicines administered to critically ill patients have to be sterile but they generally can't be sterilised by traditional methods because it will destroy them. This specialist suite of clean rooms provides a vital support facility for the midlands region and will also provide the basis for the education of operators who currently work in existing clean room facilities across the country. Now it's complete, the university is looking to create partnerships with the NHS, start-up companies, and private hospitals, amongst others."
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Notes for editors:
The unit is the first university-based facility of its kind in the Midlands and will bolster Aston's commitment to innovation and the development of future business opportunities.
The unit will also promote regional training activities for health care professionals, particularly professional development opportunities for pharmacists through Aston Media's facilities, namely the Education and Training Channel.
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