Dr. Nitipol Srimongkolpithak, a senior researcher from the Frontier Biodesign and Biomolecular Engineering Research Team at BIOTEC, has been awarded the 2023 Young Technologist award by the Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Technology under the Patronage of His Majesty the King. He received this award for his developed platform technology in “Synthesis of Medicine”. The Synthesis of Medicine platform aims at high efficiency and environmental friendly processing, which is suitable for manufacturing in Thailand’s ecosystem. As a result, high quality and reasonable price of locally-produced active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) would be obtained, in line with the Thailand’ national policy on Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) and the United Nation’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dr. Srimongkolpithak and his team focus on the drug development of malaria and virus infection diseases e.g. dengue. Promising derivative compounds of BION-075, BION-106, BION-141 and BION-157 were discovered in the early stage of drug development (TRL1-3). Regarding midstream drug development (TRL4-6), APIs for favipiravir, molnupiravir, sofosbuvir, remdesivir have been synthesized using both conventional batch and continuous flow approaches. These techniques help enhance the safety of the drug synthesis process and facilitates more efficient scaling up of production processes. The team developed the process for favipiravir as the first drug using the dual synthesis (Patent Application No. 2101001627). In collaboration with Government Pharmaceutical Organization; GPO, Thailand and Medicine for All Institute, USA, molnupiravir was developed based on chemo-enzymatic synthesis using low cost raw materials and environmental friendly approach (Patent Application No. 2201001996).
The research team has transferred the technology for synthesizing favipiravir and molnupiravir to the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, which has subsequently scaled up production to a pilot scale. The research team has also synthesized sofosbuvir and remdesivir using Phosphotriesterase (PTE)). The production scale is currently being expanded to a pre-pilot scale. (Patent Application No. 2101007629 and 2301005964).
Due to absence of API manufacturer in Thailand, NSTDA, GPO and Innobic (Asia) Company Limited agreed to establish the first API manufacturing facilities in Thailand. The collaboration is outlined in the MoU titled “Feasibility Studies on Commercial API Synthesis and Capacity Building to Enhance Drug Security in Thailand.” The advantage of establishing an API synthesis facility is that technology developers can directly transfer the API synthesis process to the plant. This enables Thailand to encompass the entire drug synthesis process, from upstream to downstream, with the expected outcome of reducing API imports from abroad, which are valued at 200 million baht per year.