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New technology for on site vaccine and medicine production

Research led by Dr. Govind Rao, Director of Center for Advanced Sensor Technology and professor in the department of Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering is featured in a recent article posted on leaps.org titled “With This New Technology, Hospitals and Pharmacies Could Make Vaccines and Medicines Onsite, 2023” The story was written based on a preprint of a paper with Shayan Borhani, Chemical Engineering PhD candidate as the first author. Aaron Thole, Chemical Engineering PhD student and Dr. Doug Frey, professor in the department of Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering are also co-authors. (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.12.19.521044v1).

The article describes a process to develop a compelling pandemic mitigation strategy to promptly suppress viral emergence at the source of an outbreak using proteins such as GRFT which are efficacious in neutralizing a broad range of viruses. This process is shown to produce a product with consistent purity and potency in less than 24 hours using cell-free biomanufacturing. 

The collaborators demonstrated GRFT production using two independent cell-free systems, one plant and one microbial. Griffithsin purity and quality were verified using standard regulatory metrics. Efficacy was demonstrated in vitro against SARS-CoV-2 and HIV-1 and was nearly identical to that of GRFT expressed in vivo. The proposed production process is efficient and can be readily scaled up and deployed anywhere in the world where a viral pathogen might emerge. The current emergence of viral variants has resulted in frequent updating of existing vaccines and loss of efficacy for front-line monoclonal antibody therapies.

Dr. Rao wants to advance technology to the point where any hospital or pharmacy could load up the media containing molecular factories, mix up the necessary amino acids, nucleotides, and enzymes, and harvest the medications in a matter of hours. This will enable on-site and on-demand medication production. Once this approach is thoroughly validated it might revolutionize medicine-making even outside of hospitals and pharmacies and extend beyond urgent situations.

Posted: February 27, 2023, 12:32 PM