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Maryland researcher receives grant to improve production of drugs that include vaccines

A University of Maryland School of Pharmacy researcher has received a $600,000 federal grant to improve the production of new drugs.

The award comes from the National Institute of Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals, established in 2016 to advance pharmaceutical manufacturing. The team led by the Maryland researcher Bruce Yu, a professor in the department of pharmaceutical sciences, will collaborate with researchers at ChromaTan Corp, a Pennsylvania-based biotechnology company.

Yu plans to develop technologies that will allow the analysis of pharmaceuticals during manufacturing without being potentially destructive. Officials in the department say Yu’s research is breaking new ground in drug manufacturing and the grant will allow the promising research to continue.

The problem with traditional manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals, which include vaccines and emerging drugs for cell and gene therapies, is that they are made with living cells and can be complex to manufacture on a large scale, Yu said. The drug makers often have to manipulate drug samples to measure their quality and performance along the way.

Yu’s research could lead to a so-called process analytical technology that would not require manipulation or removal from the production line. That could not only improve quality but reduce costs.

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