Varda Releases Results of In-Space Pharma Mission

Image: Varda

Varda’s space drugs are a-ok. 

A molecular sample analysis released yesterday confirmed the company produced crystals of ritonavir—an HIV medication—in space. Crucially, Varda demonstrated the ability to keep the sensitive crystals stable during the capsule’s fiery reentry back home. 

“Our process and hardware performed flawlessly throughout in-orbit operations, reentry, and recovery operations,” Varda wrote on X. “We successfully crystallized the least stable metastable Form III in orbit and brought it back to Earth.” 

Cookin’ up: The El Segundo, CA-based startup launched its spacecraft to orbit on June 12. Two weeks later, the mini-lab got to work on its microgravity crystallization experiments. After months of negotiations with the FAA for reentry clearance, Varda landed its capsule in Utah on Feb 22.

Varda was able to keep sample vial temps below 23 °C despite the gnarly plasma-filled environment of reentry. 

What’s next: Varda’s demo mission is just the first step. Now that it’s proven what’s possible, the startup is anticipating increased demand, a broader range of fabrication capabilities, and reduced price tags.

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