Nephron, UofSC Researchers Collaborate on Automation

September 16, 2019
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors

Nephron Pharma and the University of South Carolina plan to build a sterile compounding lab at the University for research and training.

Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation has joined forces with the University of South Carolina (UofSC) College of Engineering and Computing to design and implement an automation process for sterile compounding that boosts production of pre-filled medication, reducing the physical burden on workers and increasing patient safety, Nephron announced in an Aug. 26, 2019 press release. The research collaboration with Nephron will position UofSC to develop state-of-the-art sterile compounding methods benefiting hospitals throughout South Carolina and the nation. 

“Demand for pre-filled medication has exploded in recent years, and our company is responding to the market needs for affordable and accessible life-saving medications in pre-filled syringes,” said Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy in the press release. “We are excited to partner with innovative students and leading researchers from Engineering and Pharmacy at the University of South Carolina to meet the demands of hospitals and patients, and we look forward to working together for years to come.” 

To help Nephron meet the market demand, the College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy have finalized plans to build a fully functional sterile compounding lab at UofSC’s McNAIR Aerospace Center. This fully functional, first-of-its-kind compounding suite will offer students the opportunity to learn and develop the techniques of sterile, robotic manufacturing processes for human drug compounding.  

Between the College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy, well over a dozen undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students are involved in the project. Using a robot from UofSC corporate partner Yaskawa-Motoman Robotics as well as Process Simulate (a Siemens software package included in its $628-million gift to McNAIR Center and to the College of Engineering and Computing in 2017), these students are learning skills that will immediately translate to increased job opportunities upon graduation. 

“This team is a unique collection of talents, not just from Engineering but with advisors from the College of Pharmacy and partners from Office of Economic Engagement as well,” said Ramy Harik of the McNAIR Aerospace Center, who leads the project design team, in the press release. “By bringing together a cross-disciplinary team and constantly seeking feedback from Nephron engineers and pharmacists, our students are building a real-life application that, when completed, will be implemented in production. Particularly for our undergraduate students, this type of impactful research experience is invaluable.” 

The Nephron project is a continuation of an ongoing university partnership with the company, which is located near the campus in West Columbia, SC, and owned and operated by UofSC alumni Lou and Bill Kennedy.

Source: Nephron