InterVac, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) opened a new vaccine research and development centre at its campus in Saskatoon, Canada, in September 2011. Known as International Vaccine Centre (InterVac), the facility is a part of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO).
InterVac is the first of its kind in western Canada, being designed with biosafety level 3 laboratories. It also has bio-containment level 3/3Ag for animal pathogens.
VIDO is a not-for-profit organisation owned by the university. It conducts research on prevention of emerging infectious diseases in humans and livestock using emerging life science technologies. Both VIDO and InterVac operate as a single entity.
The facility will be used by the international bioscience scientific community, the government, academic scientists, producers and other companies.
Construction of InterVac
Construction work on VIDO-InterVac was started in November 2007. The facility is currently in its commissioning phase and is expected to receive certifications from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Autumn 2011. It will begin full operations in early 2012.
Established with an investment of C$140m, InterVac is one of the largest vaccine research centres in the world. It is also the largest in North America. It is located adjacent to the VIDO laboratory building and is connected by a walkway.
The facility complements the already large cluster of research and development in life sciences at U of S. It will develop vaccines and facilitate research for the treatment of infectious human diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis C, West Nile virus, HIV / AIDS, SARS and avian influenza, as well as large animal diseases.
It will support development of vaccines for new and re-emerging infectious diseases and also allow international collaborations to resist global pandemics. The facility is expected to create several jobs for skilled researchers and provide training opportunities to students.
The U of S International Vaccine Centre is a three storey building with an area of 145,000ft2. It has two wings - the training and research wing with contaminant laboratories (CL2 and CL3); and the animal wing with containment suites and multispecies accommodation.
The facility houses biochemistry, bacteriology, immunology and virology laboratories. The open layout of the building will encourage knowledge sharing. The modular design of the laboratories will facilitate the combination of experiments and research flexibility.
The InterVac has 18 isolation rooms for accommodating livestock. All the rooms can handle animals such as pigs, horses, cows, cattle and mice as well as birds.
The equipment rooms house state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and associated support spaces. The research centre has backup electrical and mechanical systems to allow its full-time operation.
Bio-containment is maintained by the air pressure resistant doors installed for all the key laboratories. The exhaust air is passed through two high efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) and recycling is completely avoided.
VIDO / InterVac R&D
The study of emerging disease causing pathogens such as West Nile virus, SARS H1N1 and H5N1 is possible only in CL3 laboratories.
The VIDO-InterVac research focuses on viral pathogenesis and vaccine development, immune modulation, bacterial vaccine development, neonatal immunisation, emerging infectious diseases and microbial virulence, vectored vaccines and pathogenomics.
The InterVac will increase the efficacy of existing vaccines and develop new vaccines to treat infectious diseases in both humans and animals, develop new methods of vaccine administration, improve the diagnostic efforts of new emerging diseases and the water and food safety.
The current VIDO / InterVac developments include E. coli O157:H7, prion diseases, listeriosis, needle-free vaccines, emerging and re-emerging diseases and influenza in swine, poultry and birds.
The Government of Canada funded C$49m for the project through various agencies. The Canada Foundation for Innovation put forward C$32.5m and the Province of Saskatchewan provided C$57.1m. The University of Saskatchewan pumped in C$1.2m and the city of Saskatoon provided C$250,000.
The facility was designed by Aodbt Architecture + Interior Design in collaboration with Smith Carter Architects and Engineers. PCL Construction Management was the general contractor and Robb Kullman Engineering was the structural engineer.
Daniels Wingerak Engineering was the mechanical consultant and PWA Engineering was the electrical works consultant. Hemisphere Engineering was the biocontainment consultant for the facility.