Razi Institute for Serums and Vaccines

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Last Updated: August 1, 2008
Other Name: Also referred to as the government's Serum and Vaccine Production Center; one source referred to it as Iran's Razi Research Institute (IRRI).
Location: Karaj
Subordinate To: Research Center of the Construction Crusade (also known as Ministry of Jihad-e Sazandegi, Ministry of Construction Jihad, or Ministry of Construction Crusade)
Size: Over 1.2 million square feet of office and laboratory space. As of 1995, over 1,090 experts were engaged in research projects at the institute. (Other sources say there are 155 researchers on the institute's scientific staff, 28 of them with doctorates.)
Facility Status: Unknown

Budget is 55-65 billion rials (approximately $10 million) per year. 35 billion of which is raised through product sales. The rest comes from state budget allocations. Only 3 percent, or 2 billion rials (approximately $252,000), per year is dedicated to research.

The institute was founded in 1925-26 to address an epidemic of cattle plague in the country. A French veterinarian and vaccine and serum specialist named Louis Paul Delpy helped the Razi Institute produce vaccines by 1932 to fight the organism causing the cattle epidemic. The institute's anthrax and cattle pasteurellosis disease vaccines were introduced between 1932-38. In the 1940s, the institute's production of serums and vaccines helped bring tetanus and diphtheria under control. Production of other types of human vaccines began subsequently.

Vaccine Production Timeline

  • 1932: Cattle Plague
  • 1933: Anthrax
  • 1935: Sheep Pox
  • 1936: Livestock Gangrene
  • 1937: Cattle Pasteurellosis
  • 1941: Diphtheria and Tetanus
  • 1970: Polio
  • 1987: Rubella and Measles
  • 1998: Aleppo Boil

The institute established a biotechnology department in 1992. By 1997, the department was active with advanced biotechnology facilities and a specialized workforce.

The institute is considered Iran's leading center for biological research and production. It manufactures 21 human and veterinary vaccines in commercial quantities and several other biological substances. The institute exports human and animal vaccines to more than 16 countries (mostly Moslem countries) as part of Iran's humanitarian aid program. According to the director of the institute, it produces 1.7 billion doses of 57 types of vaccines, serums, and antigens annually.

Additional functions of the institute include epizootological and ecological studies of animal diseases and human and animal biology. The institute is also engaged in research studies, which range from clinical cytogenetics and chromosome studies in cancerous cells to PCR for clinical diagnostic applications.

Under the direct supervision of the head of the institute, the biotechnology department's three main pillars are the production of a new generation of vaccines for livestock, birds, and humans, the genetic diagnosis of livestock and bird diseases, and the production of transgenic animals. The department is currently attempting to create recombinant vaccines through genetic engineering, as well as develop antigens and diagnostic kits for medical and veterinary labs.

Current Research Projects

  • The production of a monoclonal antibody for measles
  • The creation of cell lines from mice fetuses through cloning
  • Design and production of engineered skin tissue
  • Molecular analysis of the CDS gene in cattle to diagnose genetic defects
  • The production of hybrid cells
  • The production of recombinant vaccines

For vaccine production, The institute uses locally produced fermenters. The Razi Institute "...has links to the WHO and is part of the UN health care infrastructure." The institute has also been recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as "a reference laboratory for the diagnosis of many animal diseases."

According to Iranian opposition groups, Iran's biological weapons research is being carried out at the Razi site. The National Council of Resistance of Iran claims that there is a biological research center at the Razi Institute, which is capable of producing "...at least three microbes, useful for germ and biological warfare."

Dr. Gholamhossein Riazi, who heads the Special Industries Organization's fermenter project, uses the Razi Institute for fermenter production. However, Iran hosted a trial inspection visit of the Razi Institute in 1998 on behalf of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). This trial inspection included one microbiologist, one pharmacologist, one legal expert, and one general manufacturing practice engineer. During the inspection they were given access to vaccine production lines, fermentation equipment, QC laboratories, BL-3 areas, and other key equipment.

The institute cooperates closely with Sharif University's Biochemical and Bioenvironmental Engineering Research Center and Tehran University's Medical Science Department.

A "spin-off company," Jihad Razi, handles commercial sales of products originating at the institute. Other subsidiaries include the Ahwaz Razi Institute, the Mashhad Razi Institute, and the Shiraz Razi Institute.

Sources:
[1] "IRRI Produces 1.7b Doses of Vaccines, Serums, Antigens Annually," www.salamiran.org.
[2] Anthony Gerring, ed., International Research Centers Directory, p. 680; The World of Learning 1995, p. 765.
[3] Chemical and Biological Defense Information Analysis Center, Assessment of Iran's Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Efforts, p. 12.
[4] Jane's Online, Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment; Chemical and Biological Defense Information Analysis Center, "Assessment of Iran's Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Efforts," p. 25.
[5] Eldridge, ed., Jane's Nuclear, "Biological and Chemical Defence 1999-2000," p. 2.
[6] Chemical and Biological Defense Information Analysis Center, "Assessment of Iran's Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Efforts," p. B-5.
[7] "Acquaintance with Main Centers of Biotechnology in Iran: the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute," Ettela'at-e Elmi (Tehran), 16 May 2001, in "Iran: Data on the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute," FBIS ID IAP20010514000003.
[8] Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators Country Profiles; "Iran: Developments in Science and Technology," FBIS Report in English, 10 April 2001; in FBIS document IAF20010410000067.

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