Accelerate clinical trials through local production of pharmaceuticals

Snapdragon Chemistry uses in-depth knowledge of chemical manufacturing and automation to improve the pharmaceutical production capacity of pharmaceutical companies.Credits: Image: Courtesy of Snapdragon Chemistry

The Boston region was home to innovation leading to influential new drugs. However, the manufacture of medicines for clinical trials often involves international partners and supply chains. The system’s vulnerabilities became very apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Co-founded by Tim Jamison, a professor and vice president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Snapdragon Chemistry is helping pharmaceutical companies manufacture medicines locally and reduce the time it takes for new medicines to reach patients. I will.

Snapdragon essentially started out as a chemical laboratory, experimenting on behalf of customers in the pharmaceutical industry to create the molecules of interest.Aim for automation from there Production process, Often reduce the number of steps required to create those molecules. New processes may require technology, such as specialized technology. Chemical reactor— We don’t have a client, so Snapdragon teaches us to build a device for the client and incorporate it into the process.

Some of these reactors are used in the commercial production of approved medicines, but most are designed to help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies pass through. Clinical trial More quickly.

“In the clinical phase, we want to find out if there is a treatment that works for us as soon as possible,” said Matt Bio, CEO of Snapdragon. “We continue to focus on the technology to get medicines to the clinic quickly.”

Snapdragon has worked with more than 100 companies, from small biotechnology companies to large multinational companies like Amgen, to help develop potential cancer therapies.Is the company We are also working with research institutes to promote the frontier of automated material production. In a project with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), ribonucleotides are a component of the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. We are developing triphosphate.

In March, Snapdragon announced plans to build a 51,000-square-foot facility in Waltham, Massachusetts.

“This is to provide clients with the fastest route possible for molecules that need to be tested in the clinic,” says Bio.

By focusing on the processes and technologies for synthesizing chemicals, the company believes it has the potential to transform the economics of chemicals. medicine Manufactured on any scale.

“We can make [drugs] It can be much cheaper and what’s really interesting about it [around questions like] For example, how do you make a half-cent tuberculosis drug? ”says Bio.“ It’s much harder than making these complex drugs, but parts of sub-Saharan Africa. If you deploy to, you need to save all your penny. They are a new opportunity for us to engage. “

Ideas, and pivots

Jamison began thinking about setting up a company when he realized that other scientists were interested in his work on continuous-flow photochemistry, which uses light to scatter sparks. Chemical reaction It also has significant cost and scale advantages over traditional batch chemical treatments.

“In general, chemistry has been done since it started in so-called batch mode,” said Jamison, a senior researcher at the Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing and publishing many papers on continuous flow chemistry processes. I will. “It’s like cooking. We make a fixed amount. It’s a batch. But if you’re a food maker, for example, you need a continuous thing, an assembly line, to meet production. Will be. “

In 2012, Jamison, along with Aaron Beerer, an associate professor of medicinal chemistry at Boston University, began planning what the company would look like. After two years of developing, reviewing, and “pressure testing” business models with the advice of network and MIT venture mentoring service colleagues, the founders set out to set up a company that manufactures specialty and fine chemicals. .. Suitable for continuous flow synthesis. Snapdragon was officially founded in October 2014 as Firefly Therapeutics.

Jamison says the company has turned around since day one. Within a week of its founding, the founder signed two contracts. Instead of selling chemicals, it helps pharmaceutical companies develop ongoing manufacturing processes.

Bio joined the company in 2015, when the company (renamed Snapdragon) had a consulting and service contract. Snapdragon’s customer base is growing rapidly, with four moves over the first four years, requiring one to dozens of lab benches.

Snapdragon’s job of helping companies improve their chemical processes is still the most common service. Most of these improvements come from understanding what the latest reactors and automation technologies can offer.

“If you walk around our lab, you’ll see a lot of automation and robotics doing things that people didn’t do efficiently before,” says Bio. “Instead of having our scientists in the lab set up reactions or decompose reactions, we can think about chemistry and then use robotic tools to get the answers we need more quickly. I will. “

“One of the areas where Snapdragon is really innovating is the lab. [operating systems]This is literally a way to network all the equipment in the company and collect real-time information about the process, “says Jamison.

Realize industry potential

With Waltham’s expansion of Snapdragon, the company brings a perfect circle to the co-founder’s original idea of ​​producing specialty chemicals in-house.

According to Bio, this extension is particularly beneficial in developing treatments for diseases with low patient numbers and low material requirements. He states, for example, that mRNA-based therapies can treat millions of people with a kilogram of material.

The company has recently received a DARPA grant to try to turn a wealth of US products, such as natural gas and crop waste, into starting materials for high-value medicines.

Jamison believes that Snapdragon’s machine-based production process only accelerates the company’s ability to innovate.

“Future chemistry can be very different from what we are doing now, but we don’t have enough data yet,” says Jamison. “One of Snapdragon’s long-term visions is to create automated systems that can generate large amounts of data and use that data as a training set for machine learning algorithms, from how to make things to predicting material properties. , To be used in a variety of applications. This opens up many exciting possibilities. ”

Pharmaceutical companies warm up for continuous manufacturing

This article is from MIT Is a popular site that covers news about MIT’s research, innovation and education.

Quote: Acceleration of clinical trials by domestic production of pharmaceuticals (June 11, 2021) From production-local.html June 11, 2021 Get on the day

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Accelerate clinical trials through local production of pharmaceuticals

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