KCL Gene Therapy Vector Facility completed

A highly advanced new Gene Therapy Vector Facility (GTVF) has been completed at King’s College London’s specialist medical research facility, The Rayne Institute, which will support the development of new genetic treatments.

Delivered within a live environment, the expanded £5.8 m facility will now operate as one of the largest suppliers of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) grade viral vectors, supporting clinical trials across Europe. Its new micro laboratory will be used for routine environmental monitoring activities and assessment of incoming microbiological media. Meanwhile, two laboratories on the Rayne Institute’s second floor were fully stripped and fitted out to create two Grade C clean rooms, to support suites that manufacture viral vectors. The project also included the consolidation of existing storage areas into one functioning suite, with a refurbished changing area extended to accommodate enhanced service capabilities. To achieve Grade C status, a new air-handling unit to support filtration and humidity in the medical environments was installed.

Multidisciplinary property, infrastructure, and construction consultancy Pick Everard, has managed and designed the project, providing mechanical, building, electrical, structural engineering, and project management services. Director, John Clarke, said: “This was a highly technical operation given the project’s nature and eventual end use. It presented a range of unique challenges for our design teams, which were carefully navigated through effective stakeholder engagement and ensuring close compliance with Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and GMP regulations.

“We had to ensure our work would not interfere with a live working environment, and the crucial work ongoing within the existing Rayne Institute. As well as weekly risk assessments, a rigorous preparation process was implemented to ensure no contaminants entered scientific and medical areas.”

The new facility is targeting a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating, and was compliant through RIBA design Stages 1-6.

The project, which operated across a 140 m2 space, was supported through funding from King’s College London and the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Simon Howell, Professor at King’s College London, said: “This new facility will help ensure that King’s College London and the UK maintain a Europe-leading position in the production of GMP-grade viral vectors for cell and gene therapy. Excellence in this important field of biomedicine will, in the long term, deliver both health and economic benefits for the UK and beyond.”

Operational qualification work, including testing of Building Management Systems (BMS) and other installed services, were also undertaken by Pick Everard ahead of project completion.

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