Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Photo of pill bottles
  • Joshua Coleman | Unsplash
  • Drugs on demand

    A new technique makes it possible to rapidly make biopharmaceuticals in small batches.

    Biopharmaceuticals, a class of drugs comprising proteins such as antibodies and hormones, are often used to treat cancer, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders, and they’re increasingly important for precision medicine—drugs tailored to the genetic or molecular profiles of particular groups of patients.

    Such drugs are normally manufactured at large facilities dedicated to a single product, using processes that are difficult to reconfigure. This rigidity means that manufacturers tend to focus on drugs needed by many patients, while drugs that could help smaller populations may not be made.

    This story is part of the January/February 2019 Issue of the MIT News magazine
    See the rest of the issue
    Subscribe

    To help make more of these drugs available, MIT researchers have developed a new way to rapidly manufacture biopharmaceuticals on demand.

    “Traditional biomanufacturing relies on unique processes for each new molecule that is produced,” says chemical engineering professor J. Christopher Love, who led the research team. “We’ve demonstrated a single hardware configuration that can produce different recombinant proteins in a fully automated, hands-free manner.”

    The new, agile manufacturing system, which can fit on a lab benchtop, can easily be reprogrammed to rapidly produce a variety of different drugs on demand. It requires very little human oversight while maintaining the high quality of protein required for use in patients. The researchers have used it to produce three different biopharmaceuticals and showed that they are of comparable quality to commercially available versions.

    Tech Obsessive?
    Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

    Subscribe today
    Photo of pill bottles
    Next in MIT News
    Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to MIT Technology Review.
    • Print + All Access Digital {! insider.prices.print_digital !}* Best Value

      {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

      The best of MIT Technology Review in print and online, plus unlimited access to our online archive, an ad-free web experience, discounts to MIT Technology Review events, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

      See details+

      12-month subscription

      Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

      6 bi-monthly issues of print + digital magazine

      10% discount to MIT Technology Review events

      Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

      Ad-free website experience

      The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

      The MIT Technology Review App

    • All Access Digital {! insider.prices.digital !}*

      {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

      The digital magazine, plus unlimited site access, our online archive, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

      See details+

      12-month subscription

      Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

      Digital magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

      Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

      The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

    • Print Subscription {! insider.prices.print_only !}*

      {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

      Six print issues per year plus The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

      See details+

      12-month subscription

      Print magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

      The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

    /3
    You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.