This Portable Device Produces Drugs On-Demand

Posted: Aug 1 2016, 4:27am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
This Portable Device Produces Drugs On-Demand
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). Courtesy of the MIT researchers
  • MIT develops Portable Contraption that produces Drugs On-Demand

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A movable contraption is said to produce drugs on-demand. It can deliver biopharmaceuticals in limited dosages.

Those doctors that are working in war-torn areas or in the remote jungles of the Amazon or Africa sometimes need drugs which are not readily available. This issue can be an irritant which hardly has a solution in view. Yet now even this puzzle seems to have been solved.

Biopharmaceutical drugs come in handy in a number of therapies. Vaccines as well as standard treatments for cancer and diabetes employ these biopharmaceutical drugs. They are made in huge centrally-controlled fermentation plants.

What this means is that these fermentation plants must be transported to the sites where they are needed. This can be a difficult proposal. It is costly, time-consuming and painful to boot.

Especially areas which have weak infrastructure tend to be extremely inhospitable for such operations. However, now a portable supply method has emerged.

This will allow for the manufacture of the drugs on-demand. Researchers at MIT have used some of the funds from DARPA to make this portable drugs on-demand system.

The delivery system can produce a solitary dose of biopharmaceutical from small droplets of cells in liquid form. All this is contained within a compact portable gadget.

A paper published today in the journal Nature Communications in which the researchers explain that how the system can be used to produce a single dose of treatment from a compact device containing a small droplet of cells in a liquid.

This mobile unit can be taken into the battlefield and used to treat wounded soldiers. Also a vaccine could be administered in a remote bucolic setting.

Such a scenario could in fact extend to just about anywhere else. Even on Mars, a similar device would be useful in programing yeast cells to produce a certain drug that is needed by someone in an emergency.

The program is actually based on a strain of yeast called Pichia pastoris. When it is exposed to a specific chemical trigger, it produces one of two therapeutic proteins.

This particular strain of yeast is used since it shows growth capacity to the highest levels on a source of carbon. Also it is capable of forming massive amounts of protein.

The yeast strain was genetically modified. When the yeast was exposed to estrogen B-estradiol, the cells showed rHGH. On the other hand, when the cells were exposed to methanol, they showed signs of interferon.

The cells are kept within a microbioreactor which in turn contains a microfluidic chip. A liquid is fed to the machine which mixes with the cells.

It is a complex series of operations which take place and the end result is that the required biopharmaceutical comes out at the other end. Previous attempts have failed to produce such a device. Yet this time around it was a success.

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