Nearly a century after scientists first used mold to kill bacteria, the discovery of penicillin remains the most important medical breakthrough in world history. When asked to list technology’s biggest advancements since the wheel, experts ranked penicillin third only to the printing press and electricity.
As bacteria become increasingly resistant to the antibiotics widely prescribed today, however, penicillin and its relatives are losing their effectiveness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 2 million people contract antibiotic-resistant infections a year, and more than 23,000 people in the U.S. die from them. To reverse this trend, scientists have been searching for the next big breakthrough that will expand the pharmaceutical industry’s arsenal against life-threatening bacteria.
Now, it looks like they may have found it.
A recent study suggests other species of fungi related to the mold penicillin comes from could contain a pharmaceutical goldmine. After sequencing the genomes of 24 different kinds of fungi, researchers discovered more than 1,000 pathways for producing a variety of bioactive chemicals that could be used in pharmaceuticals.
“We found that the fungi have enormous, previously untapped, potential for the production of new antibiotics and other bioactive compounds, such as cancer medicines,” says Jens Christian Nielsen, a PhD student at the Chalmers University of Technology’s Department of Biology and Biological Engineering.
As researchers continue to explore the pharmaceutical potential of these fungi, they’ll be relying heavily on laboratories equipped with cutting-edge climate control solutions to keep lab samples stable, prevent contamination, and ensure the results of their experiments are carefully controlled.
How climate affects fungi growth
Dry air and consistent temperatures are vital at every step of the pharmaceutical development process, from the initial research stages to large-scale manufacturing. Without careful temperature and humidity control for pharmaceutical labs, environmental fluctuations can compromise test results and hinder scientific progress.
Fungi, in particular, are highly sensitive to temperature. Since they’re unable control their own internal thermostat, they’re at the mercy of the ambient climate. Although they can survive within a relatively large range of temperatures, their metabolic and growth rates can vary depending on how hot or cold it is.
Relative humidity also plays a key role in fungal growth. Too little humidity can hamper the growth of specimens, while too much can introduce excess moisture into the lab, spurring uncontrolled mold and mildew growth, which in turn can contaminate the experiment.
For pharmaceutical researchers experimenting with fungi, climate control solutions play a dual role. To cultivate fungi in the lab, scientists need to be able to create the optimal incubation conditions while also keeping the general environment sterile and free of contaminants, such as mold and other unwanted fungi. To maintain this delicate balance, precise climate controls are crucial. In some cases, researchers may need to create multiple contained environments within a single lab.
Climate control for the pharmaceutical industry
As scientists race the clock to find the next life-saving antibiotic, pharmaceutical labs need to be able to meet the mercurial demands of each new research project. Temporary climate control solutions are often the simplest way to achieve the parameters needed for a given experiment.
Polygon offers an array of climate control technology for pharmaceutical labs, including:
- Dehumidification. Desiccant dehumidifiers are often the first choice for temporary humidity control for the pharmaceutical industry. They’re ideal for maintaining relative humidity levels of 35 to 40 percent, and in small enclosures they can reduce humidity to less than five percent.
- Cooling and heating. Temporary cooling and heating solutions help achieve the optimal temperature while keeping the environment consistent regardless of weather conditions.
- Remote monitoring. With wireless sensors that measure humidity and temperature, researchers can monitor for environmental changes around the clock.
Polygon helps support pharmaceutical researchers in their life-saving work with climate control solutions that help protect the integrity of their lab results.