Tiny bioreactor helps to save lives in remote locations

Last Updated: 10 May, 2016

Obviously, it is not easy for those who live in remote locations or soldiers far from the medical camp to get life-saving drugs they need in real time. Though some medics can be used to patch up wounds on the spot, they have to be treated with specialized drug and if it is not available in hand then, your chance of living is at high risk.

Now researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have created a small bioreactor that generates proteins so they can be used immediately in patients. At its heart are two very long (16 feet) channels wound into an extremely tight pattern, and divided by a customized, porous membrane — one channel feeds chemicals while the other hosts the reactions that produce your drug. You only have to shake the device to send protein from one side to the other and get the medicine you need.

Most importantly these bioreactors are free my live cells, unlike conventional methods. Now, you don’t need a refrigerator to store these systems. As such, medical teams could eventually carry cheap mini reactors with them and craft drugs on the spot. That would be most helpful in emergencies, such as when you need to treat life-threatening bites and infections.

The researchers didn’t mention how much their device would cost to produce at a large scale, but they are hopeful that people without much medical expertise could purify the proteins to use them on patients who need them most. Their bioreactor could also be used to make small batches of drugs that are prohibitively expensive or in short supply, such as pharmaceuticals to treat rare diseases.