Spiralling into Affordable Healthcare

Article by Nikhil Kateja and Anurag Rathore

New reactor promises continuous processing of biotherapeutics

DESPITE technological advances, affordability of biotherapeutics continues to be poor not only for developing and underdeveloped nations but also for many others around the world. Biotherapeutics, on average, cost more than 20 times their pharmaceutical counterparts. This can be attributed to the complex manufacturing processes that involve costly machinery and equipment. The majority of these biotherapeutics act as vital tools in treating a number of life-threatening diseases like cancer.

With the number of cancer patients increasing drastically the need for cheaper therapeutics has gained more relevance. In a country like India the average treatment cost for a cancer patient is 10-20 times the per capita income. This limits the actual accessibility of these drugs. In the case of biosimilars, the cost of manufacturing accounts for a significant portion of the overall cost.

The promise of continuous processing

Continuous processing holds great promise in bringing down manufacturing costs without compromising product quality. In comparison to traditional batch processes, continuous processes offer a number of benefits such as improved productivity, product homogeneity, and superior quality assurance. However, there are several unit operations that are widely used in processing biotherapeutic products that are not amenable for use in continuous processing. So implementing and exploiting continuous bioprocessing is dependent on developing enabling technologies.

Such enabling technologies are especially lacking for operations which require reaction and mixing, like refolding, precipitation, and viral inactivation. Developing a reactor configuration to overcome this problem was the primary aim of our team at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD). Under the guidance of Anurag Rathore we have been working towards creating technology solutions for cost effective biotherapeutics manufacturing. Our team comprises chemical and biotechnology engineers and has a long history of developing technology solutions for the industry, with several patents in this research area. Many of our team members have encountered cancer within their families and have seen the actual plight of these patients. Our team members are highly motivated and passionate towards the cause of making treatment more accessible to patients, to save as many lives as possible.

Article by Nikhil Kateja and Anurag Rathore

Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

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