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Title:THE MICROBIOLOGICAL RESEARCH ESTABLISHMENT AT PORTON [Main Title]
Film Number:DED 92
Other titles:PORTON DOWN TRIALS NON-NITRATE COLLECTION [Allocated Series Title]
Summary: An overview of the work of the Microbiological Research Establishment (MRE) at Porton Down, emphasising the positive and beneficial aspects of its work.
Description: Question marks - lurid headlines about germ warfare - then "Porton Down to Open to the Public". Red double decker arrives with visitors, who enter one of the building. They go in. The narrator gives a brief background to michrobiological research. Comparison with disease agents in vaccines. "How does our own country stand as a possible CW [Chemical Warfare] victim?": analysis is made using an animated map of the UK. The difficulty of defence against CW and disease-carrying organisms. The need for secrecy, comparable with that of radar research during the Second World War. The work at MRE is concerned with various issues and is broadly for the benefit of mankind (immunisation etc). International symposium on the continuous culture (rather that batch culture) of organisms: Porton is the world leader in this (again, immunisation and other health benefits are heavily stressed). Whist newspapers focus on the germ warfare activities, Porton also supplies viruses etc for university study and public health use. Highly skilled staff: work on the vaccine for Asian flu in 1957. Production of anthrax vaccines. All MRE staff are immunised; Porton injecter for mass immunisation. Air is filtered and waste water analysed as a precaution. Assistance to Germany regarding green monkey disease, and research on foot and mouth disease. Development of viral vaccines in tissue culture (avoiding the use of live animals) although testing of vaccines can only be carried out on live subjects; narrator stresses that usage of animals at Porton is small compared with hospitals, universities, industry etc. and the animals are "well cared for". Life at MRE: lunchtime activities for staff, sports and social club, chess, sewing, flower arranging, croquet, swimming, even art classes. Decontamination of equipment by autoclaving before re-use. Scientists, schools and university students among visitors to Porton. Experimental plant: asparagnese enzyme (possible use against leukemia). Studies of pollution in rivers. Opportunities for graduate staff to present theses, and for students to work at MRE during holidays: "Roy and Terry" are seen receiving training at MRE. Other students and researchers are shown. Informal meetings with the director to discuss progress. Production of new strains of penicillin. The writing of scientific papers. MRE's library, with a large stock of journals. Microbiological warfare is touched on, with an acknowledgement that this work is kept secret but the narrator stresses that the emphasis is on defence against biological agents from possible enemies rather than the production of weapons. Final scene shows a family of visitors leaving by car.