PBL’s Pharmaceutical Fermentation Facility, Wiltshire

In April 2018, Porton Biopharma Limited (PBL) opened a new pharmaceutical fermentation facility at the Porton Down Science Park near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK.

Project Type

Fermentation facility


Porton Down Science Park, Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK

Construction Started

May 2016


April 2018


In April 2018, Porton Biopharma Limited (PBL) opened a new pharmaceutical fermentation facility at the Porton Down Science Park near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK.

The new plant allows PBL to develop and produce acute lymphoblastic leukaemia treatment Erwinase®.

The facility is PBL’s second major investment after opening a multimillion pound freeze drying facility in November 2015.

Details of PBL’s pharmaceutical fermentation facility

The new state-of-the-art fermentation facility is spread over 2,100m² area and is used for manufacturing medical products in compliance with the latest pharmaceutical regulations. It is equipped with a new 3,000l fermenter.

The facility consists of the main fermentation hall; downstream processing rooms; steam, air and effluent treatment units; and associated utilities.

The facility includes a viewing gallery that allows visitors to view the plant’s processes without entering the cleanroom-standard manufacturing area.

The plant brings the new capacity on stream to meet the increasing global demand for PBL’s products.

Construction of the fermentation facility in Sailsbury

A ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the pharmaceutical fermentation facility was held in May 2016.

Construction  was followed by the demolition of older facilities and the building of a new workshop and water plant room to support the facility. Equipment installation and pharmaceutical validation was implemented at the newly constructed facility in a phased programme.

Technology and production process at the new fermentation facility

The new facility is equipped with the technical capabilities to translate research methodologies into production processes. It includes capabilities from 2l benchtop fermenters to 100l production vessels, cell processing, prokaryotic and yeast fermentation. It also features a range of production platforms, including Wave™, roller bottles and multi-layer disposable vessels.

“It is PBL’s second major investment after opening of a multimillion pound new freeze drying facility in November 2015.”

The plant is also outfitted with product purification technology with sophisticated analytical methods including liquid chromatography (LC) mass spectrometry (MS), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC), electrophoresis, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and dynamic light scattering (DLS). It uses in process and final product analysis including forced degradation studies and stress testing.

Products produced at the fermentation facility

PBL manufactures a UK-licensed anthrax vaccine on behalf of the UK Government. This is supplied for occupational health purposes and to protect service personnel from the use of anthrax as a biological weapon.

PBL is working together with US Company NanoBio to develop a next-generation anthrax vaccine at the new facility in Wiltshire.

PBL also produces Erwinase®, which is used for the treatment of acute lymphioblastic leukaemia (ALL) in children. The drug was approved by the US FDA in November 2011. It is registered in 20 countries and commercialised in more than 75 worldwide. Erwinase is distributed and commercialised by Jazz Pharmaceuticals worldwide.

Marketing commentary

Based at Porton Down in Wiltshire, PBL was established in April 2015 to commercialise the pharmaceutical development and manufacturing capabilities that were previously within Public Health England.

The company offers expertise in development and production of biologicals, including product characterisation, process and analytical validation and scalability for market. It also develops new vaccines, therapeutic proteins and enzyme products and also undertakes contract manufacturing at all stages of the product development/commercialisation lifecycle.

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