From Ig Nobel to “paradigm shift”

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja15.1019C2
Published online: 19 October 2015

Professor Colin Raston, from Flinders University, has the singular honour of winning an Ig Nobel prize, and international acclaim in less than a year, and with the same device.

Professor Raston and his team of researchers developed the thermos-sized Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD) with which they successfully unboiled an egg, winning them the Iggie.

Now they have successfully synthesised lidocaine with the VFD, a process which Professor Raston says “signals a paradigm shift in pharmaceutical manufacture”, allowing production of lidocaine in high need areas, such as war zones and developing countries.

“The VFD uniquely controls how drug molecules can be made, and this is under continuous flow, such that research in making drug molecules can be readily translated into industry, avoiding conventional scale up problems and large reaction vessels — just leave the VFD running to make as much as you need,” he said.

“This device creates a unique way to develop more sustainable and cost-effective products, services and technologies which can accelerate innovation in a range of industries, from drug manufacturing to food and biodiesel production,” he said.

According to Professor Raston, it is the VFD’s ability to “streamline the loading of drugs into nano-packages for better results and less waste”, that leaves traditional batch processing techniques in its wake.

  • Cate Swannell



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