About us

Animal health vaccine developer

Animal health vaccines

As a commercial animal health vaccine developer and manufacturer, Design Biologix was conceptualised and established by three dedicated professionals in 1994 (Pieter Smuts, Karen Nel and George Gaenssler). That year, we started the operations of the company in one tiny lab at the CSIR in Pretoria, with the oldest, most affordable equipment that could do the job. In the very beginning we were manufacturing one product, an intra-dermally administered pasteurellosis vaccine, Pastvac, for Dr Jan Marnewick (the vet-father of feedlots in South Africa), to reduce the incidence of shipping fever in calves. Vials were labelled by hand and the vaccine delivered in person to the door of the vet’s home, and later, to Phenix in Midrand. In those days a dossier for product registration was a very short and concise document. Some were even handwritten. Increase in the demand for quality and consistency requires far more testing and reporting, which means that modern dossiers contain large volumes of information. Some old dossiers were the sum total of one handwritten page long!

Over the past 27 years we have expanded our facilities but remained on the CSIR campus and from these laboratories continued to serve the cattle feedlot industry. However, the focus of the business has also expanded to a broader base of commercial animals and sensitive wildlife species. The list currently includes cattle, sheep, goats, the aquaculture industry and wildlife species such as rhinoceros, sable, lion, cheetah and wild dog and exotic species such as seahorses, coatimundis, lemurs and fennec foxes. Today the business is wholly owned by Karen Nel and Pieter Smuts and has no principals in the pharmaceutical industry.

We have increased our annual vaccine output from approximately 0.7 million doses to 20 million doses and our infrastructure, both equipment- and personnel-wise has expanded accordingly. This expansion has necessitated finding a new home for the business. We are currently busy modifying and fitting the building into a state-of-the-art aseptic manufacturing facility. Once our new facility is complete, we will be able to increase our output even more. The new facility will also allow us to align with the quality standard of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which the Registrar of Act 36 of 1947 is in the process of implementing by legislation to ensure that the manufacture of injectable products registered with Act 36 of 1947 is carried out in an environment that complies with international standards.

Over the many years since 1994, we have, in collaboration with vets, livestock owners and managers and the regulatory authorities, developed, registered and manufactured (and continue to manufacture) effective vaccines specifically designed for the prophylactic control of diseases in all the species mentioned previously. No species too big or too small! Our products include both registered and autogenous vaccines.

We are very proud of what Design Biologix has accomplished, and we know it is because we stand on the shoulders of pioneering giants, the Theilers, Neitz’s and Weiss’s of the world, who had the vision of locally producing vaccines relevant to the South African market. However, none of this would have been possible without the people of Design Biologix, who brings to work passion, skills and commitment every day. As a team we have always manufactured products that customers have come to depend on and trust, and customers who trust the products we manufacture and therefore continue to use them. We look forward to being able to continue serving the critically important veterinary and agriculture sectors of our country for many years to come.