Researchers have developed a portable production system that can manufacture a range of bio-pharmaceuticals on demand to help doctors treat patients in remote or developing parts of the world like India, where getting rapid access to drugs can be challenging.
Bio-pharmaceutical drugs are used in a wide range of therapies including vaccines and treatments for diabetes and cancer. But these are typically produced in large, centralised fermentation plants and transporting them to the treatment site can be expensive and time-consuming.
The new system, developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, can be used to produce a single dose of treatment from a compact device containing a small droplet of cells in a liquid.
It was recently described in the journal Nature Communications.
“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,” said senior study author Tim Lu.
The system could be carried onto the battlefield and used to produce treatments at the point of care. It may also be used to manufacture a vaccine to prevent a disease outbreak in a remote village.