Govind Rao discusses portable bioreactors developed to save lives on battlefields

Soldiers on the battlefield and first-responders in conflict zones will soon be able to save lives by using a portable, briefcase-sized tool that rapidly manufactures medicines. Govind Rao, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Sensor Technology (CAST) at UMBC, leads the research team behind this innovation. At the recent Bioprocess International conference, he called the system “beyond revolutionary,” reports BioPharma.

“Welcome to the Betty Crocker world of bioprocessing,” said Rao. “Within a few hours you are expressing a high quality protein.”

The product emerged from concerns that current methods for getting pharmaceutical supplies to battlefields, often requiring airdrops, needed to be replaced with point-of-care technology. The project is a collaborative effort among multiple academic institutions and corporations, and was funded by a $7.9 million grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In the future, Rao hopes this technology can be applied to producing low-cost vaccines.

Read the full article, “‘Beyond revolutionary’: bioreactor-in-a-briefcase brings warzone production,” on BioPharma.

Image: Govind Rao. Photo courtesy Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.