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New method cuts drug making costs


Researchers have developed a method to manufacture drugs used to treat illnesses such as cancer and arthritis far more cheaply than they are at present.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have pioneered a simple way to remove the dead cells from cell cultures used to make protein-based drugs, which are expensive to manufacture but which are increasingly prescribed to treat a range of illnesses.

The high costs are due to the time-consuming and labour-intensive nature of developing the medicines in cell culture, but the team of researchers have managed to streamline this process by using magnetic beads coated with special antibodies.

These antibodies bind to dead cells without harming the remaining healthy cells, and a magnet is then used to draw the dead cells out, thereby increasing productivity of cell cultures.

Professor Chris Gregory, of the university’s Centre for Inflammation Research, commented: “Not only will this make the production of drugs more efficient, but it will also streamline research into new medicines which uses cell culture.”

The university hopes that the technology, which is being marketed by a spin-off company, Immunosolv, could also have implications for vaccine development and stem cell research.

Copyright PA Business 2008

University of Edinburgh

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