Irish invention may revolutionise biopharma production

19 Oct 2015

PATSule, at Tyndall National Institute. Photo via Conor McCabe Photography

Research institutions in both Dublin and Cork have combined to set up PATsule, a project to create sensors that can significantly improve biopharmaceutical production of medicines, offering manufacturers vastly better readings throughout the process.

Tyndall National Institute in Cork partnered with Dublin’s National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) for PATsule, which is developing a new kind of sensor for monitoring drug making.

Generally, sensors rest in a fixed position in bioreactors – which are the vessels that contain biological materials for bioprocessing the pharmaceuticals – and monitor material that they touch, giving good data to scientists with regard to the stage of the medicine production.

PATsule, though, will see sensors move freely throughout the bioreactor, providing a stream of data to monitor factors that might affect product yield or quality – the sensors are used solely for the production of protein therapies.

“This information will help biopharmaceutical manufacturers to visualise and control their process, making it uniform,” said Dr Karen Twomey, staff researcher at Tyndall.

More than half of all Irish exports are pharmaceutical products, with manufacturers and researchers spread right around the country focused on biopharmaceuticals.

PATsule utilises both micro and nano-sensor technology, with Dr Jonathan Bones claiming this “new concept” is key as it allows for measurement of critical process parameters in both time and space.

“We foresee it becoming must-have technology within the industry for all those engaged in process development and commercial manufacturing.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic