JACKSONVILLE, Fla./July 28, 2022 — Redwire Corporation, solar power generation and in-space 3D printing company, announced it will be developing new in-space manufacturing technology to provide novel and flexible services to grow small-batch crystals of protein-based pharmaceuticals and other key pharmaceutically relevant molecules for research and production. Eli Lilly and Company is the first investigator using the new platform.
The Pharmaceutical In-space Laboratory – Bio-crystal Optimization Xperiment (PIL-BOX) will provide commercial customers and researchers an innovative platform in microgravity that could improve the development of pharmaceuticals and other products. Eli Lilly will be partnering with Redwire to conduct critical testing during the initial flight missions for PIL-BOX. Lilly’s investigations will focus on the development of treatments for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Leveraging optimized, space-grown crystals, like those developed through the PIL-BOX platform, could enable pharmaceutical companies and researchers to develop new therapies to improve human health and quality of life on Earth.
“This is an exciting new capability that could unlock new drug development processes in space that could translate to improved pharmaceuticals and make a positive impact on human health,” said John Vellinger, Redwire’s Executive Vice President of In-Space Manufacturing and Operations. “We are harnessing decades worth of in-space manufacturing expertise to develop new space technologies that can intersect with the needs of terrestrial markets, like the pharmaceutical industry, to improve products and ultimately improve life on Earth.”
Understanding crystal growth and design can inform the entire drug development and design process as pharmaceutical companies look to deliver new, optimized treatments to help patients on Earth. Previous spaceflight investigations indicate that growing crystals in space could yield a more uniform product with fewer imperfections, which can improve the drug discovery and development process.
The PIL-BOX platform has exciting implications for advancing pharmaceutical research and development in space. The technology builds on Redwire’s extensive space crystallization flight heritage, which dates back to the space shuttle era through its Advanced Space Experiment Processor. Recently, Redwire sold its first space-optimized product—a space-grown optical crystal—manufactured in its Industrial Crystallization Facility, which launched to the International Space Station in 2021.
PIL-BOX is being developed in partnership with NASA through its In Space Production Applications (InSPA) flight demonstrations program, which is focused on stimulating demand in low-Earth orbit.