Setting Up a Medicine Lab: The Basic Needs
Ranging from discovering vaccines and deadly diseases to testing the blood sample of a patient with diabetes, medical labs are at the centre of the entire health community. Of course, these areas have drastically changed over the years.
As our technology has continued to evolve, techniques and safety measures have likewise improved. Regardless of how modern approaches have changed, there are still some basic needs that should be present in any laboratory. Let’s look at the bare minimum requirements that must be addressed before any action is taken.
There is always the danger of an accident occurring which could place medical professional in danger. In particular, the eyes are quite vulnerable to foreign objects, chemicals and infectious agents. These are a handful of the primary reasons why a reliable eyewash fountain should be located nearby. Most laboratories will place these fountains at designated areas so that even if an accident occurs, they are within but a few feet of the primary work area.
One common myth is that medical laboratories are not at risk for a flash fire occurring. While is it true that environments which are involved with chemistry need to take the presence of hazardous gases seriously, the same can be said for medical labs. If we think about this for a moment, it is absolutely true. Processes that are involved with heating may employ propane or butane; both of which are highly flammable and can present real dangers. Medical laboratories are normally equipped with a halon system (carbon dioxide) as well as personal extinguishers (often called “dry fire extinguishers”) that are designed to be used with liquids and gases. As with the eyewash fountains, these portable units need to be kept within close proximity of any personnel. This will enable them to be accessed in a matter of seconds if an emergency suddenly arises.
It should already be obvious that medical laboratories will have a variety of equipment that is used. This selection will partially depend upon the purpose of the lab. For example, an environment designed to experiment with airborne viruses will be much different than one creating the next influenza medication. Still, one of the most basic (and traditional) sights within any lab is the copious amount of glassware. A handful of common items will include:
- Test tubes
This and other glassware is unique in the fact that it is specifically designed to be used within harsh conditions. So, it is much less likely to break or to succumb to immense heats and pressures. Without these materials, many of the medicines that we have come to rely upon would simply not exist.
These are only a few of the basic materials that are absolutely essential within any medical laboratory. Thankfully, the Internet now provides a number of trusted suppliers which will save time and money while never sacrificing quality. Although experiments and techniques have definitely changed over the years, the core components of any lab are likely to remain the same well into the future.
How to create a vaccine
Edward Jenner may have been the first to actively prove the validity and effectiveness of vaccines in the fight against deadly diseases, but the basic concept had already been considered by the Greek historian Thucydides in 429 BC.
Jenner’s development of the smallpox vaccine grew from the same observation that survivors of the dreaded disease never became re-infected. 10th century China had also contributed to the knowledge base from which Jenner could draw.
Powdering the Nose
In what was called variolation, Chinese doctors in 900 AD developed the practice of grinding smallpox scabs into a powder and inserting this into the noses of healthy individuals, or placing some of the tissue under the skin. The method may seem primitive, but Jenner’s research in 1796 followed the same basic principles. Having observed that milkmaids who had contracted a disease known as cowpox seemed immune to the smallpox virus, Jenner removed fluid from a cowpox blister and deliberately placed it under the skin of eight-year-old James Phipps. Jenner’s heart must have been pounding when he later inserted smallpox matter into the boy’s arm, and his relief must have been great when the boy failed to develop the disease. Vaccination had finally been proven to work, and this vaccine saw smallpox being globally eradicated.
Relying on the knowledge that survivors of most dreaded diseases do not become re-infected, scientists isolate the germs which cause specific diseases and weaken or kill them. Introducing this matter into a healthy body has the same effect as if an individual had been a survivor. The weakened or dead germs motivate the body to produce antibodies with which to resist the disease, and the immune system is programmed to release these antibodies should it find itself under attack.
Modern vaccines have been responsible for saving countless millions from death or the crippling effects of disease. With new diseases always posing a threat, new vaccines will constantly need to be developed.
How do they make medicine packs?
Have you every wondered how tablet, pill or medicine packaging gets made?
When we’re unwell, we buy or are prescribed medicine, but we often take for granted how it got in the packets in the first place.
It’s a highly automated and very technical process that is really quick and efficient, and it all takes place in a sterile, factory-like room where everything is carried out by machines.
The medicines arrive at the packaging department in bulk, already made and ready to be divided up. The pills are emptied loose into huge sorting tanks and then dropped through a filter so they land in lines of single tablets. As this is happening, the machinery makes blister packs, or snug little containers, for each tablet. These are produced by heating plastic sheets onto moulds that are perfectly sized to fit each pill tightly. After a pill lands in each pack, an aluminium sheet is vacuumed into place on top to keep the contents fresh. The machinery automatically takes the packs on a moving belt to the next stage, where cutting devices chop the packaging up into dosage-size strips. In turn, these strips are bundled into the small cardboard boxes your pharmacist gives to you to take home. This amazing technology can be seen on a video on http://www.tevauk.com/how-we-make-and-supply-our-medicines
All of this action takes place in extremely sterile conditions and the UK has really strict guidelines on all of those. This is done to make sure that bacteria doesn’t get passed on to a patient, and also so that chemicals aren’t released when the medicined are moved around.
The boxes you get from the chemist will have an instruction pamphlet inside, and all the information a pharmacist needs on the outside too. The labels are often in different colours so that the chemist can easily see what dosages are inside. This is done to help make sure you don’t get the wrong strength of medicine.
Where to Find Pharmaceutical Equipment
Pharmaceutical equipment is necessary for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most importantly, both large and small companies alike will use such devices in the manufacture and production of various cutting-edge medicines. There are a few main sources that supply such equipment.
There are some sectors that will require very unique pieces of equipment. While a CT scanner can be found within medically oriented auction sites, advanced tools are likely to be quite scarce. One example of this can be seen in cryogenic freeze systems which are used in the field of stem cell research. Of course, these are highly unlikely to be encountered on the open market. Instead, reputable suppliers such as Biolamina are best suited for this and other requirements.
Information and Data
We should also recognise that not all equipment is necessarily mechanical or directly involved with production. There is a great deal of literature that any company will need to understand the numerous regulations which must be adhered to. This is perhaps one of the easiest fields to accommodate, for large sites such as Amazon.com will offer a host of different resources to choose from; many in the format of an electronic book.
A third avenue that can prove to be quite useful is the ability to attend various online auction sites. These are much like traditional auctions and the prices tend to be highly competitive. The major advantage is that an attendee can literally be located halfway around the world while still being able to find excellent deals on new and used equipment. However, it is wise to mention a word of caution. Only those sites which are the most respected should be chosen. This is the primary reason why centralised listing services are excellent to use. They will provide valuable user feedback and it is likely that the best auctions will be listed.
This traditional method is still worth mentioning, as a live auction will offer the attendant a “hands-on” opportunity that would simply not be possible via online sites. Thus, he or she can meet with sellers and physically inspect all equipment (this is very important for used items). Another benefit here is that these auctions are excellent ways to meet other peers in the industry and to develop powerful contacts for the future. So, a real-time auction can also be seen as a great networking opportunity.
As hospitals within the United Kingdom tend to be on limited budgets, there may be chances to procure pharmaceutical equipment directly from the premises. Of course, this will first require that the right supervisors are spoken to. The primary advantage in this method is that the equipment is likely to be in a nearly pristine condition. The same cannot always be said at an auction.
These are cost-effective ways to encounter pharmaceutical equipment that may otherwise be rare or difficult to procure. As this industry is constantly evolving, it only makes sense that different items will always be made available. For the growing company, these options are powerful ways to stay ahead of the ever-changing technological curve.