Baklava. Turkish delight. Cats. Beautiful hot air balloons. Picture-perfect skies. Some of the world’s best coffee. Cobbled streets that are an Instagrammer’s delight. Just some of the joys of Turkey that pretty much anybody with an internet connection knows about. History buffs will also know about the Ottoman empire and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Constantinople/Istanbul and Turkey’s many contributions to world history.
What not many people know though is Turkey’s dependence on imports for her vaccination program. A highly progressive country when it comes to their public immunization program, Turkey has most contemporary vaccines in their vaccine schedule. However, 100% of their vaccines are imported and local talent, expertise, technical knowhow are all lacking to an extent. Also lacking are adequate funds to continue importing vaccines for a growing population.
To overcome all these challenges, Haceteppe University was mandated by the ministry to set up a novel vaccine development centre. After researching options, of all the avenues available to them, Haceteppe University approached us to help set up Turkey’s first vaccine laboratory for indigenous manufacture of vaccines. Our mandate involved:
- designing the lab and training local teams
- supervising equipment selection, procurement & installation
- transferring the strains/clones and completing technology transfer
- producing successful consistency batches on a pilot scale
We started the project in 2014 and successfully completed it in 2016, developing pilot batches of Recombinant Hepatitis B Vaccine, the very first project for local development of human vaccines project in Turkey. The completion of this project was widely covered by Hurriyet, one of the major Turkish newspapers, and TRT Haber, one of Turkey’s most watched TV News stations.
We were involved at all stages right from ideation and design of the laboratory for vaccine production and quality control as well as in training the project team at Haceteppe University on technology transfer for local vaccine manufacturing as well as the formulated Drug Product. We trained personnel in the lab and also senior teams from public health institutes in Turkey. Our pivotal contribution from the very beginning of this novel project was greatly appreciated by all the Government institutions involved in the project.
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