When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Battlefield Medicine site found that soldiers posted overseas can sometimes go months without biopharmaceuticals, they looked for a way to quickly produce pharmaceuticals on demand for wartime and disaster situations by seeking out research teams to address the problem.
Govind Rao, chemical, biochemical, and environmental engineering, is the principal investigator of one such research team focused on creating medicines on demand. He spoke to Bioprocess Online, a leading source of biotherapeutic industry and technical information, about his cutting edge research.
Rao was initially skeptical about the feasibility of the project, but reached a breakthrough when he found Thermo Scientific, a company that that could remove the need for cold chain shipping due to their ability to produce large proteins within hours. After partnering with Thermo Scientific, Rao found David Wood, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State University, to help purify the proteins in a small container.
The team recently finished the project’s first phase, which proved that their basic ideas could work. They are now in their second phase, which includes creating the device that can produce therapeutic proteins in a ready-to-inject form. “We are entering a new realm of figuring things out,” Rao said. “Everything that happens today to manufacture a biopharmaceutical has to be miniaturized into this briefcase-sized device.”
Click here to read “DARPA’s Challenge: Manufacture A Biopharmaceutical In Less Than 24 Hours” in Bioprocess Online.