Biotechnology | The Pirbright Institute | TwinGuard ULT Freezers

The Pirbright Institute forms part of the UK Government’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). It carries out essential research into infectious diseases that pose a significant threat to agriculture and/or public health. This research helps identify disease control and eradication strategies, new diagnostic tests and treatments. It carries out surveillance activities on general animal health and disease movement in the UK and also provides National and International Reference Laboratories for ten exotic viral diseases of livestock.

With significant financial investment from the BBSRC, a major phased redevelopment of both of its research sites at Pirbright in Surrey and Compton in Berkshire is underway. The transformation will make it the most advanced institute in the world for fundamental and applied research on some of the world’s most devastating viruses of farmed animals. A state-ofthe- art, high containment (Level 4) laboratory complex at the Pirbright Main Campus in Surrey has just been completed as the first part of the redevelopment. Equipment for the laboratory was sourced by its Research Services Group, led by Miriam Windsor, in consultation with the scientific staff.

“Our new high containment lab enables 150 scientists and support staff to undertake research on highly contagious viruses including Foot-and- Mouth Disease, Swine Fever and highly pathogenic Avian Influenza viruses,”  said Miriam. “Equipment security and reliability are our top priorities. Dealing with pathogenic biological material means we never compromise on safety. Whilst the decision making process was subject to tender, we chose Panasonic equipment on the basis of the unique capabilities of the MDF-U700VX-PE TwinGuard -86ºC ULT Freezers and the reliability and longevity of our previous Panasonic equipment.”

Deciding on TwinGuard

MDF-U700VX TwinGuard -86ºC ULT Freezers feature a unique Dual Cooling System, designed to store valuable  biological samples securely. Two independent refrigeration systems provide a reliable -86ºC ultra-low temperature storage environment. Should an unexpected failure occur in one cooling circuit, the other maintains the freezer in the -70ºC range until service can be arranged.

“We were particularly impressed with Panasonic’s dual cool compressor system and it was the biggest factor in our purchasing decision,” added Miriam. “It is imperative that our samples are safely stored. We hold the world reference collections of some biological materials. We would have an extremely limited amount of time to relocate our samples if a freezer failed. That means just hours - even at night. In addition, working within the highest security levels (Levels 4 and 5), means that there is a long, drawn-out process to rectify this kind of situation. With the reassurance provided by the dual cool compressor system, we know that if one compressor did fail, we would have more time to take appropriate action. Although so far, we’ve had no problems whatsoever. No other manufacturer offers this kind of advanced system assurance.”

Arun Parmar, Panasonic’s UK Sales Manager, explained how evolving customer needs have driven development of Panasonic’s dual cool compressor system. “Many of our customers’ samples are extremely  valuable, either scientifically, commercially or historically, and some are even irreplaceable. For example,  they may be from a critical clinical trial, represent many years of scientific research, or they could be  pathogenic in nature, as in the case of The Pirbright Institute.” he said.

“It is essential that we ensure our freezers provide a safe environment for these samples. Reliability is  critical. In addition, the processing of these samples has become more expensive. If a freezer goes down, the  implications are becoming much more significant. Although Panasonic products are well known for  reliability, our dual cool compressor system was developed to make sure extra capacity is available to cover  any eventuality.”