Medical Air Technology | Tel: +44 (0)844 871 2100
Medical Air Technology delivers a new laboratory suite for LSHTM
“MAT is large enough to cope with any issues but small enough to care, and this was evident throughout. It was a pleasure to work with MAT and the team that was assembled for the project, and we hope to have the opportunity to work together again.”
John Starmer: Estates Director, LSHTM
The best research deserves the best facilities, and when the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) needed a new purpose-built suite of microbiology containment laboratories for Dr Serge Mostowy, Professor of Cellular Microbiology, to continue his exciting and innovative research into controlling infection, Medical Air Technology (MAT) proved to be the ideal construction partner. The completed suite is made up of two Category or Containment Level (CL) 2 laboratories and three CL3 laboratories. The containment level relates to the equivalent biological agent hazard group as defined by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations and categorised by the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP).
Construction of the Mostowy Lab
With Dr Mostowy preparing to join LSHTM, building his laboratory was a priority. LSHTM knew of MAT’s experience in this highly specialised arena, and approached the company to build the Mostowy Lab, as it is now called. A project of this size can take years to develop, with several months being spent on design alone. However, if the lab was to be ready for Dr Mostowy’s arrival, the team from MAT had just 30 weeks for design development, installation and commissioning. This was only made possible by close collaboration between MAT and LSHTM, and an absolute commitment from all involved to have the lab ready in time.
LSHTM stripped out the floor area in preparation for the new suite, with MAT designing the layout as well as the critical ventilation system. Special considerations included extra ventilation and cooling for a high-powered laser confocal microscope. LSHTM had confidence in MAT to interpret what was needed, working with its own project manager and safety team. Work progressed very smoothly, with decisions made quickly and efficiently as needed.
The major redevelopment of an adjacent LSHTM site was being carried out at the same time, so it was vital to co-ordinate works to ensure everything ran to plan. Working on a Central London site. presented additional challenges around congestion and delivery. This was addressed through phased and out-of-hours deliveries, with everyone involved pulling together to ensure progress on both projects was unhindered.
The Mostowy Lab would be investigating Shigella, estimated to be responsible for 125 million cases of diarrhoea annually and around 160,00 deaths, a third of which are young children. Shigella flexneri is a Schedule 5 bacteria, as defined by the Biological Security for Pathogens and Toxins guidelines, and as such requires particular security measures, outlined in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. All areas in the new laboratory suite are SR4 security rated, as detailed in LPS 1175 Security Ratings, which relates to the physical security of intruder-resistant building components. MAT has worked on many Schedule 5 laboratories, and was able to ensure that all necessary actions, checks and precautions were taken, demonstrating the importance of working with a specialist contractor on complex projects such as this.
The Lab in Use
The use of zebrafish is an emerging approach to studying infection, and one Dr Mostowy has helped to pioneer. In its first days of life, the tiny embryo zebrafish is completely translucent. This means scientists can examine what happens at a biological level when bacterial infection, such as Shigella, is introduced into its body via a microinjector – a microscope with an incorporated micromanipulator for precise needle positioning.
Anyone visiting the technologically advanced new lab, well equipped with a multitude of microinjectors and microscopes, will see scientists examining petri dishes containing the infected zebrafish embryos, using high resolution microscopy to observe incredibly clear images of the bacteria spreading and the immune system responding. It is hoped that understanding the mechanisms different infections use to attack cells and multiply will ultimately lead to the development of targeted ways to stop them.
A Successful Project
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the biggest threats to global health. MAT, along with everyone involved in the design and construction of the Mostowy Lab, was honoured to have the opportunity to play a role in something that could lead to the development of new ways to fight infection.
“Throughout the project, the MAT team provided leadership and remained calm when solutions were required to keep the project on track; it was this diligent method of working that enabled the lab to open on time to provide a facility to enable essential scientific research for LSHTM and the Faculty of Infectious Tropical Diseases.”
John Starmer: Estates Director, LSHTM
After completing several previous cleanroom and containment laboratory projects at Imperial College London, MAT was proud and excited to once again have the opportunity to work in partnership with such a prestigious institution to deliver the new research environments.
After initial designs were developed and approved, building work began in summer 2020 and the new cleanrooms were handed over in June 2021, the entire project having taken just 11 months.
Imperial College London is a global top ten university with a world class reputation. Its alumni include 14 Nobel Prize winners, including Sir Alexander Fleming.
To enable the highest level of research, the university offers the best
possible facilities. One of its flagship buildings is the £90m Sir Michael
Uren Hub, located at the White City campus. Designed as a
collaborative facility, the 13-storey Hub provides space for Imperial’s
world-leading researchers, engineers, scientists and clinicians to work
alongside one another to investigate some of the twenty first century’s
most urgent biomedical and healthcare problems.
FEATURES CONTAINED WITHIN THE CLEANROOMS:
The new cleanrooms MAT was commissioned to design and build both had to be ISO Class 6 standard to safely accommodate the semiconductor research that would be carried out in them. Class 6, as defined in ISO 14644-1:2015 Cleanrooms and Controlled Environments, refers to the cleanliness levels that must be met within the cleanroom.
In addition to having a high air change rate, an ISO 6 environment must be accessed through airlocks to preserve pressurisation differentials and prevent the migration of particles from outside into the cleanroom space, increasing one class at a time. So, users should pass through an ISO 8 environment, then an ISO 7 environment, before entering the ISO 6 cleanroom.
MAT acted as the designer and main contractor on the cleanroom project, working closely with the university to ensure minimum disruption to the other activities being carried out in the Sir Michael Uren Hub.
The team developed a design built around the complex research equipment and specialist tools that would be housed in the new cleanrooms. Work included final services connections and extensive bottled and house gases installation to several hazardous gases and associated gas detection systems.
HVAC design is complex and requires a highly skilled delivery team.
MAT is an expert in the provision of specialist HVAC systems. The HVAC system is at the heart of cleanroom design. Cleanroom HVACs differ from standard systems in that they have an increased air supply, different airflow patterns, use of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, and room pressurisation, and clean to dirty room air cascades.
In order to meet the required air cleanliness, the air must pass through HEPA filters. The lower the ISO class, the more often the air must pass through the HEPA filter. This ‘air changes per hour’ rate (ACH) and the room volume are used to calculate the HVAC’s required airflow. A conventional HVAC system usually makes two to four air changes per hour, whereas in a cleanroom it can range anywhere from 10 to 250 or even more.
The ISO Class 6 cleanrooms at Imperial College London require air change rates from 50 to 70 per hour.
MAT designs, manufactures and installs bespoke critical ventilation systems and turnkey project solutions for new build and refurbishment projects. As a specialist contractor with many years’ experience, we are passionately committed to improving patient protection and end-user safety in demanding clinical, research and drug production arenas.
We have extensive experience of working in live environments and understand the challenges around delivering a project within an operational scenario.
In addition, MAT FM provides a range of competitively priced and highly effective service and maintenance packages for all core products and turnkey solutions offered by MAT or other suppliers, ensuring that equipment is maintained, serviced and validated correctly for optimum performance.
For more information, please contact Will Evans:
Tel: 0844 871 2100
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