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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 9

I Introduction

II The Australian Chemical Industry

III Pharmaceuticals
i Prosperous pioneers
ii War-time pharmaceutical chemistry
iii Commonwealth Serum Laboratories
iv Post-war pharmaceutical manufacture
v Public sector policies

IV Chemists In Other Industries

V The Dawn Of Modern Chemical Industry - High Pressure Synthesis

VI The Growth Of Synthetic Chemicals - Concentration, Rationalisation And International Links

VII Australian Industrial Chemical Research Laboratories

VIII The Plastics Industry

IX The Paint Industry

X Acknowledgements



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Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (continued)

In 1927 Dr Morgan was appointed CSL Director; he led the laboratory until 1956, throughout its period of greatest expansion. A major development during the latter part of his era was the fractionation of human blood plasma by the Cohn process for component product therapy replacing the earlier preparation of convalescent native sera and plasma expanders by the use of ammonium sulphate salting-out techniques. During the 1920s and 1930s convalescent sera were used in the prophylaxis of streptococcal infections, diphtheria, rubella, poliomyelitis, etc. Escalation of use came during the Second World War with the need for blood and plasma transfusion on a large scale. Although the use of plasma was in vogue in many countries, the Australian decision to concentrate on manufacture of a stable heat-treated serum minimised the risk of hepatitis transmission for the Australian troops.

Innovations by CSL during this period included work by J. J. Graydon and R. T. Simmons on the Rh factor which reduced the risk of incompatibility, and two major projects, largely the result of the initiatives and drive of Dr P. L. Bazeley: a major scale up in the Cohn ethanol franctionation in 1950 and the manufacture of Salk vaccine between 1955 and 1965. The former yielded a wide range of plasma fractions, plasma expanders (albumin and stable plasma protein solution) and immunoglobulins both 'normal' and with high levels of specific antibodies, and, from 1961 on, the clotting factors VIII and IX, the only effective products for the treatment of haemophiliacs. The early introduction of Salk vaccine resulted in the virtual elimination of poliomyelitis -another demonstration of the importance of effective transfer of pharmaco-medical technology.

Perhaps the most significant event in the development of pharmaceuticals in Australia and an achievement in technology transfer was the timely manufacture of a lifesaving antibiotic, penicillin, in the early 1940s.

Wartime needs brought quick action by the Australian Government, and a team headed by Dr P. L. Bazeley (later Director of CSL, 1956-1961) obtained seed culture strains for Penicillium notatum and basic manufacturing technology from the USA in early 1943. Early fermentation methods which were based on extremely large numbers of shake-flasks quickly progressed to deep tank fermentation at the 5000 gallon level. The requirements for sterile air, specific nutrients, sparging, pH and temperature control and the demands of handling large biomass for downstream purification, established techniques which were later of great value in the scale up to 10,000 gallon tanks in the 1950s and to 33,000 gallon tanks in the 1960s.

Through CSL's early efforts, Australia had penicillin supplies available for the armed forces throughout the Pacific and Asian regions, including India, and was the first country in the world to meet civilian demands in 1944. CSL's success, and the growing market opportunities for penicillins in the 1950s and 1960s, also led to the establishment of other fermentation plants, by Fauldings in Adelaide, Glaxo at Port Fairy, Victoria, and by Abbott at Kurnell in New South Wales.

A further antibiotics production facility, the Cyanamid tetracycline fermentation plant, was established in Victoria. Like the early commercial penicillin plants, however, it was unable to compete when US plants grew to dimensions by orders larger than the markets which could be serviced from Australia and it closed down. CSL's early manufacture of streptomycin and chloromycetin also had short runs; production of the latter was superseded by chemical synthesis and its use limited by side effects.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Abbott Australasia Pty Ltd; Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (C.S.L.); Glaxo Pty Ltd

People in Bright Sparcs - Bazeley, Dr P. L.; Faulding, Francis H.; Graydon, J. J.; Morgan, Dr F. G.; Simmons, R. T.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 662 - 663, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher