An Iowa bio-products maker has been approved to make a disinfectant used in the fight against Mad Cow disease. Ted Carlson’s a quality control manager at the Cedar Rapids plant operated by Genencor which has made bio-products in Cedar Rapids for about a dozen years now. They mainly make industrial enzymes, used in making the ethanol put into your gas, manufacturing the beer or detergent you use, even in the making of artificial snow.
Carlson says he’d guarantee everyone’s used one of their products without even knowing it. In the case of Mad Cow, tiny biological agents called prions are blamed for spreading the brain-wasting disease. Meat products contaminated with Mad Cow have been linked to more than 150 human deaths worldwide, mostly in Britain, from a brain-wasting syndrome known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
The Cedar Rapids plant has been approved to manufacture “Prionzyme”, a new product used to disinfect medical instruments and prevent prions from spreading the disease.
The manufacturing site in Cedar Rapids will have to do more documentation and record-keeping. He says the certification’s done so the product can be expected to do what it’s supposed to do, and be not only safe for people using it in providing medical care, but also safe for the patient.
The product will be made at first for customers in the medical field. They’re targeting medical companies that’ll use it to disinfect instruments used in “invasive surgery”…working on your central nervous system, eyes or tonsils, typical areas where the prions have been shown to accumulate within the body.
Later, the line will be developed to offer products that’ll sterilize other instruments — and equipment in meat processing plants. Carlson says it’s exciting to take materials made here in Iowa and Midwest, use their fermentation processes, and create products that can be used for everything from filling your car with gas to brewing beer to cleaning medical instruments with what he says it the “most effective of any technique out there.”
At first the United Kingdom will be the target market, and production of the Prionzyme will begin once British customers for the product are lined up. If demand is strong, Carlson says the Cedar Rapids Genencor plant could expand its workforce, though that’s now happening yet.