St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London is one of the oldest and most famous hospitals in the world with a history of pioneering medical research that stretches back 900 years. That innovative research also continues to this day nearby at Barts Cancer Institute – a Cancer Research UK Centre of Excellence.
The work of the institute’s laboratories is supported behind the scenes by two new specially adapted Astell Scientific 735 litre square chamber autoclaves, which provide a vital decontamination and sterilization service to ensure the safety and integrity of the work in the laboratories.
Ground Breaking Cancer Research
Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, is responsible for the discovery of many advanced surgical procedures as well as the use of radiotherapy to treat cancer. Research is directed at preventing cancer and developing better diagnostic techniques and treatments to increase patient survival rates. There is a particular focus on three of Cancer Research UK’s top priorities: Pancreatic, Oesophageal and Lung cancers.
In addition to research, the Institute is also engaged in teaching the most able young scientists and doctors as part of clinical and research-based postgraduate courses. They are given first-hand experience of cutting-edge procedures in the laboratory and clinic so that they can continue the crucial work in the future.
A Safe and Sterile Environment
All the media, instruments, pipettes, tubes and blades used by the researchers in their experiments must be sterilized before use to ensure the scientific integrity of results. In addition, much of the waste from the laboratory has been exposed to viruses or blood samples and needs to be decontaminated according to procedures set out for Biohazard Group 2 material.
To achieve efficient decontamination and sterilization, the Institute has two dedicated Astell 735 litre autoclaves located in the BCI’s John Vane Science Centre. The large capacity of the autoclaves enables them to complete the daily decontamination and sterilization in one cycle. Decontamination takes place in one unit in the morning and the sterilization of new media in the other in the afternoon. This procedure keeps the process simple and eliminates the possibility of accidental cross contamination.
All Biohazard Group 2 waste is first chemically decontaminated in the laboratory and placed in autoclave bags to ensure the waste is safe to handle by the autoclave operatives. The bags are then subjected to an autoclave sterilization cycle at 121°C before they can be sent to a third party for incineration.
Astell Scientific Autoclaves – A Perfect Fit
The two new Astell autoclaves have fitted snugly into the space vacated by earlier Astell models that had run efficiently for 10 years. Based on the standard 735 litre Astell square chamber autoclave these units have been customised to enable them to fit side by side in the autoclave room. Fascia panels have been specially designed to fit around the autoclaves, providing a neat, hygienic finish. Steam for both units is supplied by the laboratory’s own generator.
For Principal Laboratory Manager Vipul Bhakta, the decision to choose Astell was based on a number of important criteria: firstly, Astell’s ability to provide a tailor-made solution for the cycles, volume and type of waste processed ensured throughput would be maximised. Secondly, the flexibility to adapt the size of the units to fit into the physical space available minimised disruption to the facility. Thirdly, Vipul had confidence in the quality of installation and service they would receive based on their experience of working with Astell for over 10 years. Finally, and crucially, Astell provide customer support through local UK based engineers to ensure speed of response should operational issues arise.
The Astell SQUARE Autoclave Range
The two specially adapted 735 litre autoclaves bought by Barts are from Astell’s high volume range of autoclaves. The models vary in size from 125 to 735 litres capacity and can sterilize/decontaminate very large volumes of bottles or media. Barts had their own steam generator on site but if required all models in the range are available with an integral steam generator.
This range features:
- Manual or Automatic door(s)
- Temperature range of 100°C to 138°C (0.2 – 2.4 bar)
- 5.7” colour touchscreen display and external pressure gauge
- 5 pre-programmed cycles – up to 50 available
- Password levels to stop unauthorised users making changes
- Internal memory for storing up to 5000 cycles
- Delayed start facility
- Water or air cooling systems