In an epidemic outbreak, medication is highly in demand – large quantities are required, researchers at MIT have now figured out a way to manufacture these drugs on-the-go!
Just as an emergency generator supplies the extra electricity required to handle a power outage, this portable pharmaceutical machine could be deployed to produce drugs needed to handle an unexpected disease outbreak or to prevent a drug shortage caused by a manufacturing plant shutdown, TOI reports.
“Think of this as the emergency backup for pharmaceutical manufacturing. The purpose is not to replace traditional manufacturing; it’s to provide an alternative for these special situations” said Allan Myerson, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“Such a system could also be used to produce small quantities of drugs needed for clinical trials or to treat rare diseases. The goal of this project was to build a small-scale, portable unit that was completely integrated, so you could imagine being able to ship it anywhere”, said Klavs Jensen, a professor at MIT.
As traditional manufacturing can take weeks or even months to process, this prototype can now produce four drugs formulated as solutions or suspensions – Benadryl, lidocaine, Valium and Prozac. Using this apparatus, the researchers can manufacture about 1,000 doses of a given drug in 24 hours.
The chemical reactions required to synthesise each drug take place in the first of two modules. The reactions were designed so that they can take place at temperatures up to 250 degrees Celsius and pressures up to 17 atmospheres. By swapping in different module components, the researchers can easily reconfigure the system within hours to produce different drugs. In the second module, the crude drug solution is purified by crystallisation, filtered, and dried to remove solvents, then dissolved or suspended in water as the final dosage form.