MIT is researching new methods of how to produce medicines more efficiently in case of disease breakouts that require mass amounts of pills to be dumped and would act as a portable assembly line for creating new drugs on demand.

In a new report named On-Demand continuous-flow production of pharmaceuticals in compact, reconfigurable system written by a host of engineers at MIT, "a fridge sized box" is reportedly the next step into meeting these goals. 

In the abstract, the team writes: 

Commodity chemicals tend to be manufactured in a continous fashion. However, the preparation of pharmaceuticals still proceeds batch by batch, partly on account of the complexity of their molecular structure. Adamo et al. present an appartus roughly the size of a household refrigerator that can synthesize and purify pharamceuticals under continous-flow conditions. The integrated set of modules can produce hundreds to thousands of accumulated doses in a day, delivered in aqeous solution

 

Producing pharmaceuticals is currently a long process due to the amount of chemical engineering that occurs at more than one venue. If there are any problems at any of the plants where pharmaceuticals are manufactured, it can slow the process down. 

The researchers at MIT say that in the future this will not be a problem if their self-contained assembly line gains popularity. According to TechnologyReview.com, the machine can currently produce Benadryl, Valium, and Prozac. For now, these are the only drugs that will be accommodated due to the U.S. Defense Department funding the project, ensuring that only drugs available in Medic pack's would be available. 

Klavs Jensen, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science and engineering at MIT is confident batch processing with continuous-flow technology is the way forward. He emphasized the cost benefits to making them with the machine, saying it would be far more economical. Jensen says, "The goal of this project was to build a small-scale, portable unit that was completely integrated, so you could imagine being able to ship it anywhere. And as long as you had the right chemicals, you could make pharmaceuticals." 

Allan Myerson, an MIT professor of the practice in the Department of Chemical Engineering said: "Think of this as the emergency backup for pharmaceutical manufacturing. The purpose is not to replace traditional manufacturing: it's to provide an alternative for these special situations."