Flexicon FP50 enables rapid conversion between batches for ASA Spezialenzyme

Published: 3-Nov-2023

In its search for a good manufacturing practice (GMP)-compliant solution to fill and seal vials in the microlitre range, ASA Spezialenzyme GmbH chose an FP50 from Flexicon Liquid Filling

The compact peristaltic system saves space in the cleanroom and provides gentle and very precise filling of small quantities.

Thanks to its versatility and the use of custom-made Flexicon single-use components, the new filling line enables rapid conversion between batches and simple adaptation to projects with larger filling quantities and vials.

ASA Spezialenzyme, based in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, specialises in the production and distribution of enzymes, microbial cultures and other innovative biotechnological products for various sectors (ranging from food and beverage to paper and pulp).

The company is also active in the development and formulation of pharmacological excipients.

ASA Spezialenzyme produces special enzymes, such as a newly developed adjuvant for use as an active enhancer in promising (hepatitis B and Chagas disease) vaccines, which are currently in the preclinical development phase.

A sterile process has been designed and installed in accordance with current GMP standards to process the liquid-formulated adjuvants. According to GMP guidelines, high-risk operations such as the aseptic filling of sterile products must be done in a Class A environment. 

By using a laminar air flow (LAF) workbench (Class A) with glove ports installed in the cleanroom (Class B), the risk of contamination with micro-organisms, particles and pyrogens is minimised.

"After production, the liquid is first filtered in batches and transferred into a presterilised bag. Then the fill/finish operation takes place, filling 500 microlitres into presterilised 2R vials, before the vials are stoppered and crimped," explained Marc Schreiber, a researcher at ASA Spezialenzyme. 

"Until recently, we used a semiautomatic filling system for such small quantities, in which the stoppering was done manually. For this project, however, a fully automatic filling and closing process had to be installed because the vials must be stoppered as quickly as possible for regulatory reasons.” 

“To guarantee maximum flexibility for future projects, the new fill/finish system should not only offer a certain range of fillable volumes, but also allow for rapid conversion between batches." 

The FP50 from Flexicon Liquid Filling, a brand of WMFTS, was the perfect solution. This fully automated system processes up to 25 vials per minute.

Flexicon FP50 enables rapid conversion between batches for ASA Spezialenzyme

The Flexicon FP50 is particularly suitable for the production of small and medium batches in pharmaceutical research and development, biopharmaceutical development laboratories and for clinical trials. All materials and surfaces comply with GMP standards for aseptic filling for simplified validation. 

Higher accuracy without drift

The filling is done by a peristaltic pump with an accuracy of ±1%. Stoppers can be inserted completely or partially in the case of freeze-dried products. Operation is via an easy-to-clean control panel located outside the LAF.

The pump’s unique design reduces pulsation to a minimum, enabling faster dispensing rates. This system provides a scalable and transferable process for the development and production of new preparations. 

A significant advantage for ASA Spezialenzyme is that the compact FP50 takes up little space in the cleanroom and the feed tray can be placed straight or laterally (L-Form). When swapping to larger or smaller vials and stoppers, only two format parts need to be changed.

Since the installation of the new filling line, ASA Spezialenzyme is very satisfied with the accuracy and reliability of the Flexicon FP50.

The process validation went smoothly owing to the extensive installation qualification (IQ) and operational qualification (OQ) documentation, and ASA Spezialenzyme is also more than satisfied with the operational performance.

"We process an average of one batch per week (600 vials filled with 0.5 mL)," said Marc: “The accuracy is an impressive 1%, even with this small amount, and there is no drift.” 

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Calibration to start a new batch is also quick and easy. “We usually do 3–5 calibrations at the start of a batch or the start of the working day. By the second dose, we usually have achieved our required filling accuracy," said Marc. "This allows us to minimise product loss during calibration."

Flexibility to scale-up

ASA Spezialenzyme’s special enzymes are also protected as a result of the FP50’s simple operation and low pulsation. Marc notes: “The gentle filling derived from the peristaltic system gives us security for future projects, such as when it comes to filling sensitive antibody vaccines.” 

“Just as important is the versatility of the system: very few machines can handle volumes as low as 0.5 mL. The FP50, with its wide fill range, will also enable us to switch to larger vials at a later stage.”

This high flexibility is also made possible using Flexicon’s asepticsu fluid path solution. This presterilised and double-packed single-use kit includes all the fluid contact components needed for the filling process, such as bags, hoses and connectors, as well as the filling needle.

As both equipment and consumables come from a single source, ASA Spezialenzyme can be confident that all components are perfectly matched to each other and, thanks to the versatility of the Flexicon FP50, it’s futureproof!  

“The single-use functionality enables us to have short set-up times and, thanks to the flexibility of the system, we can also easily fill larger volumes in future projects," concluded Marc.

In a nutshell

  • ASA Spezialenzyme GmbH has selected an FP50 from Flexicon Liquid Filling, part of Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Solutions (WMFTS), to fill and stopper vials in the microlitre range.
  • The compact peristaltic system enables rapid conversion between batches and is easy to scale-up from small volumes at the early stage to large volumes at a late stage.
  • The filling and stoppering system processes up to 25 vials per minute with an accuracy of ±1%.

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