Gea introduces industrial-scale equipment for production of vaccines and blood plasma

Technology for blood plasma fractionation and vaccine production

The photo shows the final formulation process. This process has two steps. An Ultra-Diafiltration and the following formulation step. The product is Immunoglobulin. (Photo: BLICKPUNKT PHOTODESIGN/Daniel Bödeker)

GEA has developed numerous innovative improvements to both blood fractionation and vaccine production and brought them to the global market by applying first-class engineering.

Fractionating human blood plasma yields purified and concentrated proteins from which drugs or vaccines are then developed. The blood plasma fractionation process is complex and requires in-depth knowledge of both the procedure and the specific equipment needed to achieve high yields in a cost-effective timeframe. In the fight against coronavirus, for example, the administration of antibodies to counter Sars-CoV-2 is a promising treatment option. Once someone has been infected with a virus and recovers, their blood is rich with antibodies. Like a vaccine, giving antibody infused blood plasma to a sick patient could speed up their recovery. The advantage, especially for immunocompromised patients, is that the antibodies have already been produced. The downside, however, is the absolute requirement for a sufficient number of willing donors.

However, whether a vaccine induces antibody production or they’re obtained from blood plasma, both approaches ultimately have one thing in common. Once the laboratory work and clinical tests have been completed, full-scale production must be expedited to manufacture the largest possible quantities. GEA, the globally active mechanical and plant engineering company with a long history of vaccine and blood fractionation expertise, is ready to quickly transform developments made by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies into marketable processes and systems.

GEA technology for blood plasma fractionation
Blood fractionation refers to the process of separating the plasma obtained from blood into its individual components. Plasma is the liquid part of the blood and accounts for about 55% of the total volume. It consists mainly of water and contains small amounts of dissolved minerals, salts, iron, nutrients and proteins. It serves as a transport and storage medium for erythrocytes (red blood cells), leukocytes (white blood cells) and thrombocytes (blood platelets).

The design, construction and installation of an integrated fractionation plant is an extremely complex and challenging undertaking. It’s not just a matter of simply connecting various unit operations, it also requires the precise control of parameters including pH, ethanol content and temperature. Equally important is the use of suitable virus inactivation steps and the complete automation and validation of the entire system. With individual machines or modules that can be combined and automated to ensure maximum flexibility, high yields, efficient and reliable operation for a long service life, GEA is committed to developing and supplying customer-oriented solutions. The company’s extensive experience in plant-specific process implementation has been proven during the last 20 years with the successful completion of countless projects for many clients.

Technologies for global vaccine production
GEA is also a world leader in the design and configuration of microbial and cell fermentation systems for the vaccine industry. Supplying standalone modular technologies that can be combined to form an entire production plant, these GEA solutions are based on extensive expertise in cell culture systems, cell separators, homogenization plant and filtration units.

Furthermore, GEA’s spray- and freeze-drying technologies help innovative technology companies to develop temperature-stable blood products and vaccine preparations that have a long shelf-life and do not require refrigeration, making them easier to transport to hard-to-reach and remote areas.

For many years, GEA has been working closely with the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers. GEA is also an active partner of many other companies in the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN) around the world to support the safe and reliable production of cost-effective vaccines.


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