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How Pressure BioSciences is Redefining the Value of Pressure in Biotechnology: the Promise of New Drugs and Cures, High Quality Nanoemulsions, Clean Label Foods and So Much More

The implications for Pressure BioSciences' UST are far reaching, spanning pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, cosmetics, inks and lubricants, and even clean-labelled food.

What can pressure do? Quite a lot, actually. Just ask carbon. In the same vein that DeBeers probably didn’t like scientists figuring out that they could produce flawless diamonds with high pressure and high temperature in a lab, companies selling conventional equipment to break cells to release the biomolecules inside for analysis (e.g., DNA, proteins, lipids), such as “bead beaters”, sonicators, homogenizers, and other old school cell-breaking products, likely aren’t going to be too thrilled about Pressure BioSciences (PBIO) disrupting the cell lysis market with their new innovative Barocycler 2320EXT, that splits cells like nothing ever before. The company’s unique instrument and consumables product line, based on their patented pressure cycling technology (PCT) platform, could revolutionize how the world’s academic, government, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical researchers approach their important research studies from this point forward.

Recently, Pressure BioSciences announced the initial issuance of patents on their newest discovery, called Ultra Shear Technology or UST. By uniquely combining ultra-high pressure driven fluid dynamic shear forces with controlled temperature, they have developed a novel and patentable homogenization process that offers the potential to create stable nanoemulsion mixtures of otherwise immiscible (non-blendable) fluids, such as oils and water. The implications for UST are far reaching, spanning pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals (including CBD oil from cannabis), cosmetics, inks and lubricants, and even clean-labelled food (including dairy products, apple juice, etc.).

Drug Discovery Starts with Sample Preparation

Appropriately, the EXT in 2320EXT is short for “extreme.” The scientists at Pressure BioSciences, which includes the venerable high-pressure expert Dr. Edmund Ting, invented the Barocycler 2320EXT, effectively taking the legacy version of the machine used for sample preparation to a new level with next-generation technology and an on-board computer, replacing a microprocessor. The machine is revolutionizing the way cells are broken open, mastering exact pressure cycles ranging from ambient to 100,000 psi to carefully crack open cells at just the right pressure level to extract the DNA, RNA, proteins and lipids inside in a reproducible manner, all the while minimizing the damage to the cell’s constituents.

That’s a huge step in the right direction compared to essentially smashing or chopping cells indiscriminately into pieces, without much regard to the biomolecules inside, like most labs do today.

Not only can existing products be improved, but there is potential for new pharmaceuticals and other products to be developed, possibly bridging voids in today’s standards of care. Understand that components of medical science react differently to pressure, with lipids being the most sensitive of the primary biomolecules of interest to nature’s force. While pressure can help modulate enzymes, it can also denature proteins, inactivate microorganisms and accelerate reactions that destroy vitamins, to name just a few effects.

A door to innovation is opened with a next generation system like Pressure BioSciences’ Barocycler 2320EXT. It’s a matter of providing the right innovation tool to the more than 500,000 scientists grinding and blasting away at cells to overcome the shortcomings of today’s sample preparation methods.

In a world where immunotherapies are the most promising component in health care, proteins and enzymes could be engineered differently, with greater specificity and stability. Enzymes with possible biotechnological importance could be examined in a whole new way, or “again for the first time” for therapeutic relevance.

It’s the Barocycler 2030EXT’s unique capabilities that resulted in ProCan, a cancer research initiative located in the Children’s Medical Research Institute in Sydney Australia and the first international collaborator of the $1.8 billion U.S. Cancer Moonshot program, purchasing five Barocycler 2320EXTs since the system was released in 2016 As ProCan co-Director Professor Phil Robinson said, “Due to its unique capabilities, the Barocycler 2320EXT has become a critical part of our program. It is the primary enabler of the high-throughput component of the project. Without this step, a project like ProCan simply could not be done”.

New and Improved Products Start with Next-Generation Pressure Technology

Dr. Ting has been recognized as an early pioneer in high pressure and pressure cycling technologies and applications for decades. About 15 years ago, he took his knowledge to Starbucks (SBUX) as the coffee purveyor looked for solutions to kill bacteria, extend shelf life, and avoid the need for chemical additives for its Evolution Fresh juice line. Thanks in part to Dr. Ting’s input when he was the Chief Technical Officer of Flow Laboratories, an early developer of High Pressure Processing (HPP) in food, Starbucks now answers the question, “What makes Evolution Fresh unique?” on its website with, “Evolution Fresh peels, presses, and squeezes raw fruits and vegetables. After chilling, blending and bottling juice, we use a technology called High Pressure Processing (HPP) to ensure safety and help retain flavors and nutrients.”

Dr. Ting has continued to brilliantly push the bounds of pressure technology, mostly with his work on both PCT and UST at Pressure BioSciences. With UST possibly representing the next evolution in high-pressure technology, the number of applications for PBIO’s technology is virtually limitless, although biotechnology, foods, nutraceuticals and cosmetics, areas where water solubility has historically bedeviled manufacturers, are natural fits from the outset. The benefits to healthcare abound with more efficient delivery and higher absorption rates of active ingredients in medications, supplements and nutrients potentially possible through UST.

The company recently received the first two patents protecting its UST in China, with patents pending for the intellectual property in virtually all developed nations.

To articulate the possibilities of UST takes a brief understanding of emulsions, or mixtures of two or more liquids – oil and water, for example – that will not permanently blend together without the use of chemicals called emulsifiers. A simple, real world example of an emulsifier is dish soap, which is necessary to make hot water clean oily pots and pans. Other examples of emulsification include homogenized milk, vaccines, mayonnaise and graphene, just to name a few. Globally, macro- and micro-emulsifiers are used every day in product development in basically every sector.

Nanoemulsions are the hot button as a viable improvement to traditional macro and micro-emulsions. “Data from scientific studies indicate that nanoemulsions of nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals may exhibit improved absorption, higher bioavailability, greater stability, and lower levels of stabilizing additives (surfactants) compared to the larger droplet sizes resulting from current emulsion processes,” Dr. Ting said in an announcement on Oct. 18 discussing PBIO’s new partnership with the Phasex Corp. “Because of these significant advantages, nanoemulsions are currently the focus of many research efforts worldwide. Unfortunately, even with these increased efforts, scale-up to a cost-effective, industrial level nanoemulsion production process remains a significant challenge.”

Pressure BioSciences is aiming to overcome these nanoemulsion challenges with UST by breaking down and bonding material at the cellular level, resulting in a permanent mixture of materials normally immiscible.

To lend a little more color, consider that covalent bonds and some provitamins are resistant to pressure. UST has implications for a wide range of applications from nutraceuticals to cosmetics to textiles to food and food preservation, considering that covalent bonds include dyes, flavors and aromas, while examples of pressure-resistant provitamins include the likes of riboflavin, retinol and thiamin. This is without mentioning that the natural, pathogen-destroying process is requisite for “clean” labeling against the backdrop of a growing choir of health-conscious consumers.

In the new collaboration with Phasex, a world leader in supercritical fluid (“SCF”)-based toll processors for extracting, purifying, recrystallizing, and fractionating a wide range of polymers, natural extracts, specialty and fine chemicals, and nutraceutical and pharmaceutical preparations, the two companies will combine their UST and SCF technologies for one of the hottest markets today: cannabis. The goal is to enable the development of stable, water-soluble nanoemulsions of nutraceuticals, include cannabidiol (CBD)-enriched plant oil.

CBD is a non-psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant believed to have a litany of medicinal benefits. With cannabis now legal in more than half of the U.S., Grand View Research forecasts the medical marijuana market to reach $55.8 billion by 2025, representing yet another growth vertical for PBIO.

PBIO President and Chief Executive Officer Richard T. Schumacher believes that “the ability to subject liquids to UST following the Phasex SCF extraction and purification process would be a highly sought-after ‘Value-add’ for Phasex customers.” Further, “Combining the capabilities and experience of PBI and Phasex could effectuate commercial scale production of such formulations with long shelf stability, which in turn could potentially result in a highly profitable service model for the PBI and Phasex collaboration,” according to Schumacher.

A Company Maker Forged in High Pressure

The Barocycler 2320EXT could be a company maker in and amongst itself. Now add in the potential for UST and the overall market opportunities are multiplied. Schumacher has repeatedly said that he feels this company could be bigger than any of the other three startup successes (total market cap greater than $1 billion) he already has on his esteemed resume. That’s due to the sheer innovation, scalability and vertical growth opportunities with Pressure BioSciences. The sea change could be starting to happen with the launch of the new, award-winning product last year, CE Mark for commercialization of the Barocycler 2320EXT in Europe, UST patent protection, and the company ramping its sales force over the past few months from a single person (who produced over $2 million in annual sales) to a team of six currently selling equipment and consumables, primarily to the life sciences industry.

Pressure BioSciences is a company that many in the investment world overlook, but when it comes to industry, PBIO is shaking the tree and making a name for itself, winning numerous awards already as well as presently standing as one of the finalists up for a prestigious 2017 R&D 100 Award. Award winners for what has become known as the “Oscars for Innovation,” will be announced at a black-tie ceremony on November 17 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Win or not, it is one more feather in the cap of a company that surely will not continue to go underappreciated for very much longer given its potentially game-changing technology.

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