Future Focus


Bristol Myers Squibb works with SpaceX to study biomanufacturing in space

It was announced last week that the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will make its journey to the International Space Station (ISS) carrying important research in the areas of life sciences and technology. The spacecraft made its launch in April, and took some of Bristol Myers Squibb’s (BMS) research with it.
There are approximately 20 research projects on board, including BMS’s project assessing the crystallisation of biotherapeutic compounds in microgravity. This research aims to investigate the crystallisation process and how it could improve biomanufacturing, as well as how it may eventually provide delivery of higher doses of proteins in the ‘unique environment’ that is space.
Other research on the spacecraft include two investigations using tissue chips to ‘improve understanding of heart disease and develop new treatments’ according to the ISS’s press release; multiple projects evaluating ‘technology in the harsh environment of space’ that aim to use platforms outside the space station as ‘the ultimate durability test’; and BMS’s research into the crystallisation of biotherapeutic compounds in microgravity.
BMS’s research aims to not only assess how compounds react to conditions in space, but also to understand which physical conditions result in large, high-quality crystals in microgravity. The press release explains that ‘the team aims to determine how this knowledge could help improve biomanufacturing processes, elucidation of the structure of complex molecules and convenient delivery of higher doses of therapeutic proteins on Earth.’
Robert Garmise, the associate director of BMS’s material science and engineering and the leader of the pharma’s space station research project, commented: “In the future, we hope to continue to advance our knowledge of crystallisation of therapeutics in microgravity, and then taking our learnings and applying them to broader modalities.”