A research team from Harvard and MIT have studied a recent technology which uses portable and inexpensive techniques for creating new pharmaceuticals. These are commonly useful for people who are far away from hospitals especially people in space stations as that of the astronauts. The study was published in the journal Cell.
Freeze dried molecular components are used for preparing pellets to create new components by just adding water.
‘New pharmaceuticals can be created in space by using portable and inexpensive freeze drying technology.’
James Collin, senior author of the study said that " I think this opens up possibilities of creating a biotech equivalent of the chemistry kits many of us grew up with that consisted of powders and chemicals,"
"Now, we show that you can actually have freeze-dried DNA components and other biomolecules that can be used in an easy, low-resource way to explore the power of our technology." he added.
Pellets are made by freeze drying the molecular machinery used in transcription and translation process and when water is added the desired end molecules is produced.
The technology is widely used for developing portable toolbox for designer antibodies for disease relevant targets. Example Clostridium difficile bacteria for fatal infections and kills breast cancer cells.
A team of researchers were found to discover onsite vaccine production by testing pellets for synthesizing diptheria vaccine.
Diphtheria vaccines are sensitive for both heating and freezing and therefore synthesizing it through onsite vaccine production would be an advancement. They also found that pellet synthesized vaccines were found to produce protective response in mice.
Collins said that, "We showed that you could get an appropriate biological response"
"We're not developing novel vaccines, but we're showing that if we can encode the antigens in DNA, then we can harness that ability and have the vaccines in an easy-to-ship and -store format." he added.
Biomolecular manufacturing is found to be 10 times less expensive compared to other process. These pellets can be stored at room temperature making it easily available for people who are far away from hospitals and who could not access refrigerator facilities.
The outcome of the research would be further used for long term medical treatment even in space . However scalability of the process would be a drawback for certain molecules which do not easily accept freeze- drying technique.
Further research regarding the expansion of the process, and platform where it is carried out are focused to increase the production of new molecules.