Affording biotherapeutics is a hard task not only for developing and underdeveloped nations, but also for many others around the globe, because of their high costs. On average, they cost more than 20 times their pharmaceutical counterparts, fact attributed to the complex manufacturing process that involves expensive machinery and equipment. However, these biotherapeutics are vital in treating a number of life-threatening diseases, including cancer.
The number of cancer patients keeps increasing and the need for cheaper therapeutics is vital. For example, in India the average treatment cost for a cancer patient is 10 to 20 times the per capita income, which limits the actual accessibility of these drugs.
However, the continuous processing holds great promise in bringing down manufacturing costs without compromising product quality. The benefits of these continuous processes include improved productivity, product homogeneity and superior quality assurance. Although this sounds promising, there are several unit operations that are not amenable for use in continuous processing. For this reason, implementing and exploiting continuous bioprocessing is dependent on developing enabling technologies.
The reaction and mixing operations such as refolding, precipitation and viral inactivation are especially lacking such enabling technologies. Developing a reactor configuration to overcome this problem was the primary aim of the team at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD).
Anurag Rathore supervised the project and together they have been working towards creating technology solutions for cost effective biotherapeutics manufacturing. The team consists of chemical and biotechnology engineers, with many of them having encountered cancer within their families and having seen the actual plight of these patients. The team is now highly motivated and passionate towards the cause of making treatment more accessible to patients and to save as many lives as possible.