The market for plasma-based products is booming. Valuable plasma proteins and their ingredients form the basis of numerous vital medicines. However, production is expensive and full of pitfalls. Especially the pasteurization of sensitive proteins such as albumin proves challenging for pharmaceutical manufacturers and equipment suppliers. Syntegon's subsidiary SBM supplies tailored solutions.
Drugs derived from human plasma are used today in a wide range of therapeutic areas, from immunology and hematology to intensive care medicine. Blood plasma has also been repeatedly considered for the treatment of Covid-19. Many life-saving drugs require albumin, a valuable protein that plays an increasingly important role, for instance in the production of monoclonal antibodies. These biopharmaceuticals are considered key for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases.
However, producing blood plasma products is expensive and time-consuming. Human albumin in particular places special demands on pharmaceutical manufacturers. The protein needs dedicated processes to inactivate potential viruses during the manufacturing process without denaturing the albumin. The pasteurization process requires a stable temperature of 60 (+/- 0.5) degrees Celsius, or 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least ten hours. "Maintaining this temperature over such a long period of time is a skill we are really good at," explains Josef Summer, Head of Engineering Customer Projects at the Syntegon subsidiary Schoeller-Bleckmann Medizintechnik (SBM).
Final pasteurization as supreme discipline
SBM specializes in pharmaceutical sterilization with a broad equipment portfolio including the steam/air mixture and hot water shower processes. "We use our experience to customize solutions for customers and products," says Summer. It comes as no surprise that the company's expertise is currently in high demand. After all, some consider the final pasteurization of a blood plasma product as a supreme discipline. Currently, the specialists at SBM are working on several customer projects, taking on any challenge.
Precise pasteurization of blood plasma products
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"For example, we are currently using extensive simulations to analyze which process is best suited for a specific customer product," Summer reports. "Each product needs a very exact process setup during pasteurization. Often, supposedly minor details tip the scales in favor of one process or another. That's where we can provide the best possible support with our experience, even for niche products like albumin."