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GEA builds process plant for the production of immunoglobulin for CSL Behring in Bern

Based on previous collaborations, GEA Group’s comprehensive range of plant and components helped CSL Behring to increase its production capacity for life-saving immunoglobulins during Project
Based on previous collaborations, GEA Group’s comprehensive range of plant and components helped CSL Behring to increase its production capacity for life-saving immunoglobulins during Project "PROTINUS". (Photo: BLICKPUNKT PHOTODESIGN, Daniel Bödeker

“PROTINUS” (lat. forward, further“) is the name of the project with which the biopharmaceutical company CSL Behring will significantly increase the production capacity of immunoglobulin at its site. GEA received the order for the process plant, the heart of the facility.

The two additional production lines will enable a further 90,000 patients per year to be supplied with life-saving drugs. Thanks to the good cooperation of all parties involved in the project, it was possible to continue the project on schedule despite the global corona pandemic. Following the successful commissioning of the modules I and II also in Berne, Switzerland (2007 and 2009) and modules III and IV at CSL Behring’s Melbourne, Australia site (2013 and 2017), this is now the third GEA process plant at CSL Behring to be commissioned with modules V and VI.

High demands on plants and process safety

CSL Behring relied on GEA not only because of the good experience with the previous projects in Berne and Melbourne. As a supplier of sterile process plants with many years of experience, GEA can draw on the extensive theoretical knowledge and professional competence of its engineers to provide modern, customized and cost-efficient process lines for the production of new drugs in accordance with the current requirements of the global drug regulatory authorities. The technological competence for the biotechnology industry includes cultivation, fermentation, separation, homogenization, crystallization, concentration, freeze drying and fractionation, complemented by a comprehensive range of bioreactors, fermenters, vessels and high-quality components. GEA plants are also characterized by high availability and economical operation. This is backed up by a long history, combined with a great deal of competence and experience in this field. In fact, the first pharmaceutical plant was built back in the 1970s. Since the 1980s the company has strategically focused on biopharmaceutical applications.

Recipe for success: Integration in the engineering process and continuous improvements

The ”PROTINUS“ project in Berne had other success factors. For example, GEA was able to build on the many years of experience gained with the running plants in Berne and Melbourne. This was another reason why GEA was involved in the engineering process from the very beginning. Together with CSL Behring, GEA continued to work on the degree of automation and took it to new levels. Significant progress was made in the areas of ”increased availability“, ”operability“ and ”safety“. A concrete example: As an improvement on the previous modules, a purely manual switchover panel could be replaced by a complex valve combination in the clean room. This allows CIP cleaning and product transfer without risk of contamination in parallel and without manual operator actions.

Immunoglobulin - life saver for many people and the possibility to lead a normal life again

”Our greatest incentive in this project is that the additional production capacity will enable around 90,000 people per year to lead a normal life" says Pierre Caloz, Head of Manufacturing EU & APAC, CSL Behring. CSL Behring has therefore invested 250 million Swiss francs in the project, creating 50 new jobs. Immunoglobulins are proteins of the globulin class. They are used to defend the human organism against foreign substances that have entered the body. They therefore play a central role in the immune defense. They are used in autoimmune diseases as well as in passive immunization against certain pathogens and in cancer therapy.

About GEA

GEA is one of the largest suppliers for the food processing industry and of related industries that generated consolidated revenues of over EUR 4.9 billion in 2019.

The international technology group specializes in machinery, and plants as well as process technology and components. GEA provides sustainable energy solutions for sophisticated production processes in various end-user markets and offers a comprehensive service portfolio. The group generates around 70 percent of its revenue in the food and beverages sector that enjoys long-term sustainable growth. As of December 31, 2019, the company employed about 18,500 people worldwide. The company is listed on the German MDAX (G1A, WKN 660 200), the STOXX® Europe 600 Index as well as the DAX 50 ESG Index and selected MSCI Global Sustainability Indexes.

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