The drug quality standard protocols and government regulations have made virus microfiltration mandatory for most of the processes conducted by biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms.
Sterile filtration is a compulsory procedure to be followed while making the end products from the input materials as the input materials are derived from organic sources contain Viruses and other microbes.
Microbes are filtered out through microfiltration films. Microfilters are made of cellulose and polyether based substances. Viruses are smaller than microbes like bacteria and other unicellular organisms. Hence the microfilms which prevent the microbes from passing through do not prevent the viruses from doing so. Virus filtration requires nanofiltration films in order to be filtered out from the solution. Microfiltration enables removal of microbes and viruses without changing the input substance in any other way.
Within the sterile filtration industry, the membrane filtration segment is witnessing significant growth at present largely due to the growth in pharmaceuticals and biotechnological industries. More and more pharma and biotech companies are bringing out new molecules and products the productions of which require micro and nanomembrane filtration.
Besides the pharma and biotech industries, membrane filtrations are also applied in the food industry, water filtration industry and academic and research institutions. The sterile filtration market is expected to grow at the rate of 12.5% CAGR from 2016 to 2021. In 2016 the world sterile filtration market was 4.5 billion US dollars. By 2021 the market is expected to grow to 8.11billion US dollars.
The growth is being realized from all the major regions of the world. In the developing countries of Asia availability and high cost remain a problem. However, these problems can be addressed by increasing the distribution networks, taking up local production, tying up with the global manufacturers for local distribution and production. In countries like India, biotech and pharma industries are on the growth trajectory and increase in the supply of micro and nano filters will be immediately be snapped up by the demand. The increase in demand, in turn, would lower the price and level out the price differences.
Nanofilms have holes ranging from 18 nm to 130 nm. They are used to strain out liquids containing organic matter. One problem encountered while nano filtering is that the rate of flow of the liquid substance through the films gets very slow for nano-sized holes and the fluid substance is not just able to flow through. One way of overcoming the problem was placing microfilms having holes of larger sizes one above the other. This implies that films or filters with larger holes are placed towards the top and as the fluid descends the holes in the films get smaller. This technique has its advantages as the films with larger holes obstructed the larger particles and microbes, and the nano filters are used only to filter out the viruses.
Micro and nanofiltration processes are accompanied by virus titration. The filtration and titration is carried out as per the production plan in specified stages. It is important to count the virus at each stage to know how many have been removed through the nanomembranes. Virus titration requires specific equipment and plates for carrying out the virus counts. Growth in nanofiltration in this way will also impact the growth in the entire virus titration supply chain.
What happens to the viruses that get caught up in the membrane meshes? They need to be annihilated or made inactive. The films also need to be studied to identify the viruses and look out for any new strains. Industries and chains which supply to these two activities are also likely to evince growth due to growth in the virus filtration segment.
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