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Wireless sensor could revolutionise future production of medicines

23 October 2015

A sensor capsule developed in Ireland is set to improve the production of cutting-edge bio-pharmaceutical treatments for chronic diseases.

Dr Karen Twomey and Dr Jonathan Bones pose for the PATsule project

The 'Process Analytical Technology Sensor Capsule' (PATsule) project, currently being conducted by the Tyndall National Institute, Cork, and the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT), Dublin, is working to develop wireless smart sensor capsules that are able to move freely within bioreactors to provide continuous in situ monitoring of the production process

Previous sensors have been fixed in one position and could only monitor material that directly passed their surface. The PATsule sensor capsule will move around freely in the bioreactor during production, providing a stream of data to monitor factors that might affect product yield or quality.

Used specifically for the production of protein therapies, the PATsule has the potential to revolutionise bioprocess monitoring and control. More informed process development will improve the ability to manufacture therapeutic proteins, enhance their quality, increase their speed to market and benefit medical professionals and patients by reducing the cost of therapies.

“Current process monitoring is performed using fixed sensor probes," explains Dr Karen Twomey, a staff researcher at Tyndall. "The PATsule, a wireless mobile sensing device, will freely move within the bioreactor, continuously monitoring and analysing the production vessel environment.

"This information will help biopharmaceutical manufacturers to visualise and control their process, making it uniform. PATsule involves a multi-disciplinary approach of micro- and nano-sensor technology, miniaturised instrumentation, data analytics and wireless communications.”

“The PATsule represents a new concept in process monitoring as it enables the measurement of critical process parameters in both time and space, which was not previously possible," says Dr Jonathan Bones, NIBRT principal investigator. "We foresee it becoming must-have technology within the industry for all those engaged in process development and commercial manufacturing.”

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