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Monday, August 1, 2016

Portable Drug Factory

MIT Scientists Develop Portable Device To Produce Biopharmaceuticals On Demand

Seerat Chabba | August 1, 2016

In an attempt to aid doctors in remote areas, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have designed a portable system to manufacture a number of biopharmaceuticals on demand.
In a paper published Friday in the journal Nature Communications, the team demonstrated that the system could be used to produce a single dose of treatment from a device containing a small droplet of cells in a liquid.
“Currently, manufacturing of biologic drugs in the biopharmaceutical industry relies heavily on large-scale fermentation batches that are frequently monitored offline, to ensure a robust process and consistent quality of product,” the study explains.
However, this system could possibly be carried to areas that do not have access to this level of production and even be used to manufacture vaccines to prevent a disease outbreak in a remote village, a press release stated senior author Timothy K. Lu, head of the Synthetic Biology Group at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, as saying.

"A new, portable production system is designed to manufacture a range of biopharmaceuticals on demand. The principal component of the microbioreactor is a plastic chip with microfluidic circuits (green), optical sensors (red and blue circles) for monitoring oxygen and acidity, and a filter to retain the cells while the therapeutic protein is extracted (white circle)." Source:
"Imagine you were on Mars or in a remote desert, without access to a full formulary, you could program the yeast to produce drugs on demand locally," Lu [Tim Lu, an associate professor of biological engineering and electrical engineering and computer science, and head of the Synthetic Biology Group at MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics] says.
The system is based on a programmable strain of yeast, Pichia pastoris, which can be induced to express one of two therapeutic proteins when exposed to a particular chemical trigger. The researchers chose P. pastoris because it can grow to very high densities on simple and inexpensive carbon sources, and is able to express large amounts of protein.
"We altered the yeast so it could be more easily genetically modified, and could include more than one therapeutic in its repertoire," Lu says.

[Click on link for video] "For medics on the battlefield and doctors in remote or developing parts of the world, getting rapid access to the drugs needed to treat patients can be challenging. Biopharmaceutical drugs, which are used in a wide range of therapies including vaccines and treatments for diabetes and cancer, are typically produced in large, centralized fermentation plants. This means they must be transported to the treatment site, which can be expensive, time-consuming, and challenging to execute in areas with poor supply chains. Now, researchers at MIT have developed a portable production system, designed to manufacture a range of biopharmaceuticals on demand." (Portable device produces Biopharmaceuticals on demand. Published July 30, 2016.) Source:

<more at; related articles and links: (A Portable Factopry Uses Yeast to Make Drugs on Demand. No more waiting for life-saving drugs. July 29, 2016) and (Portable device produces biopharmaceuticals on demand. August 1, 2016)>

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