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Varda releases results of its in-orbit test for producing pharmaceuticals in weightlessness

On March 20, 2024 Varda released the results from its seven-month-long flight of its unmanned capsule, claiming that the technology worked to produce pharmaceuticals in weightlessness that will be better at treating some difficult illnesses such as HIV.

From the abstract of the preprint paper [pdf]:

Despite notable progress in realizing the benefits of microgravity, the physical stability of therapeutics processed in space has not been sufficiently investigated. Environmental factors including vibration, acceleration, radiation, and temperature, if not addressed could impact the feasibility of in-space drug processing. The presented work demonstrates the successful recovery of the metastable Form III of ritonavir generated in orbit. The test samples and passive controls containing each of the anhydrous forms of ritonavir; Form I, Form II, Form III, and amorphous exhibit excellent stability. By providing a detailed experimental dataset centered on survivability, we pave the way for the future of in-space processing of medicines that enable the development of novel drug products on Earth and benefit long-duration human exploration initiatives.

More research is likely required, but I suspect Varda will be able to raise investment capital from this success, since there is a lot of money to be made from pharmaceuticals that can only be produced in weightlessness.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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  • Barry

    They were looking at this in the early 1980s when I was in college. One of the shuttle launched tried an electrophoresis experiment. Unfortunately it was loaded on the shuttle sideways and didn’t produce as designed. Slow progress in this field. No doubt Pharmaceutical companies have gain more capital to pursue this line of production in the last 40 years.

  • Barry: See this September 2019 post: Charles Walker: the first commercial astronaut. They were only one flight away from profitability when the Challenger failure occurred.

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