New Ig Nobel winner uses discovery to produce needed drugs

Four days after being awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for chemistry — for partially un-boiling an egg — Professor Colin Raston is being lauded for using his discovery to produce a widely needed drug that can henceforth, thanks to him, be produced cheaply and easily, practically anywhere. So says a September 28 press release from the university:

Ig Nobel egghead cracks global anaesthetic code

One of the world’s most in-demand anaesthetics can now be produced on the spot, thanks to the thermos-flask sized device that recently won Flinders University inventor Professor Colin Raston an Ig Nobel prize.

Professor Raston and his team of researchers have successfully synthesised Lidocaine using their desktop Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD), in a development with huge implications for the traditional mass production methods of the global pharmaceuticals industry.

It’s so easy to produce Lidocaine with the VFD, which made global headlines earlier this year when it unboiled an egg, that the device’s inventor, Professor Colin Raston, says it could be made in even the most remote locations, with only basic instructions, in less than an hour.

Professor Raston says the ability to produce Lidocaine, one of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ‘most important medicines for a basic healthcare system’, in high need areas such as war zone and developing countries signals a paradigm shift in pharmaceutical manufacture.

[Here’s a news report by ABC News, interviewing professor Raston about the triumph:]

The 2015 Ig Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to Callum Ormonde and Colin Raston [AUSTRALIA], and Tom Yuan, Stephan Kudlacek, Sameeran Kunche, Joshua N. Smith, William A. Brown, Kaitlin Pugliese, Tivoli Olsen, Mariam Iftikhar, Gregory Weiss [USA], for inventing a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg.

The team published details of their work, in the study “Shear-Stress-Mediated Refolding of Proteins from Aggregates and Inclusion Bodies,” Tom Z. Yuan, Callum F. G. Ormonde, Stephan T. Kudlacek, Sameeran Kunche, Joshua N. Smith, William A. Brown, Kaitlin M. Pugliese, Tivoli J. Olsen, Mariam Iftikhar, Colin L. Raston, Gregory A. Weiss, ChemBioChem, epub January 2015.


This photo (by Mike Benveniste, whose late cousin, Jacques Benveniste was a two-time Ig Nobel Prize winner) shows Professor Raston (left) and co-author Gregory Weiss (center) as Nobel laureate Jack Szostak hands them their Ig Nobel Prize. Nobel laureate Dudley Herschbach (far right) looks on.

You can watch video of the team accepting their Ig Nobel Prize.

Here’s a look at the vortex device:

And here’s a capsule version of the story of how to partially un-boil an egg: