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Iowa plant to manufacture an enzyme to destroy BSE
Iowa Correspondent

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — An Iowa-based biotechnology plant last week announced plans to manufacture a specialized enzyme that would destroy bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or Mad Cow disease from medical devices utilized in invasive surgeries, veterinary procedures, as well as equipment used in the meatpacking industry.

“The Cedar Rapids facility produces enzymes in both liquid and solid forms for the detergent industry,” said Ted Carlson, manager of quality control and assurance at Genencor International, Inc.’s southwest Cedar Rapids site, which opened in 1991 and employs about 94 workers.

“In addition, we produce liquid products for starch processing and the ethanol industry,” he said. “Because of the experience and capabilities of the facility and people at the plant, producing the Prionzyme™ product was a natural fit for the site.”

Headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., Genencor, a division of Danisco A/S, is a leading industrial biotechnology company, which develops innovative enzymes and bioproducts for improving the performance and environmental impact of the cleaning, textiles, fuels and chemicals industries.

Developed jointly with the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency (HPA), Genencor’s Cedar Rapids facility has been assessed and certified by a European Notified Body as the world’s only plant to manufacture Prionzyme, the first enzyme technology specifically designed as a prion disinfectant for sanitizing medical instruments.

“The facility is the only site of the Genencor manufacturing facilities that will be manufacturing the product because the facility has been certified ISO 13485:2003,” Carlson said.

Prions, the causative agents of BSE and its human form, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), have been a concern in countries like the United Kingdom in recent years, due to a lack of technology to reduce the risk from the protein-based particles on medical instruments.

“Prionzyme M, the first product commercially available today,” Carlson said, “is specifically targeted to disinfect instruments that have been utilized in invasive surgeries, such as procedures related to the central nervous system, eyes and tonsils, where prions have been shown to accumulate in the body.”

John Gell, vice president of industrial specialties for Genencor, said the use of Genencor’s Prionzyme for medical instruments would combine the proprietary enzyme with temperature and pH conditions, which would be added as the first step in a pre-soak process with stainless steel instruments.

“This technology will be easily adaptable to current procedures and equipment already in place in hospitals and clinics,” he said.

Genencor President Thomas Pekich said Prionzyme would now give hospitals and sterilization units complete access to “a new, highly efficient technology to help them reduce the risk of prion contamination.”

“Our partnership with the HPA combined with the protease technology expertise we’ve built over the past two decades has been key to addressing this difficult problem,” he said.

Gell said Prionzyme would also minimize worker safety issues by reducing exposure to harsh chemicals and lessening the environmental impact as enzymes biodegrade in disinfectant solution versus concern about disposal of caustic chemicals.

“We are now identifying marketing partners to bring the technology to the medical industry quickly and effectively,” he said.

Last fall, Genencor completed a $35 expansion project for its Cedar Rapids plant that the company said created about 20 new jobs on the 80-acre site.

This farm news was published in the April 5, 2006 issue of Farm World.