Right first time drug manufacture

November 20, 2009
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Engineers at a UK university claim to have developed technology that can be used in existing chemical reactors to ensure right first time drug crystal formation, which is crucial to their efficacy and the efficiency of pharmaceutical manufacturers' operations.

Engineers at a UK university claim to have developed technology that can be used in existing chemical reactors to ensure right first time drug crystal formation, which is crucial to their efficacy and the efficiency of pharmaceutical manufacturers' operations. The breakthrough, which uses self-assembled monolayers, was announced in a press statement issued by the University of Leeds.

"If you imagine the way that oil sits on top of water, that's similar to how the monolayer works," Kevin Roberts, a professor at the university's Faculty of Engineering, said in the press statement. "We've shown that we can produce a well-defined crystal structure using a self-assembled monolayer bound onto a metal substrate within a regular reactor. This is exciting because it's a relatively simple system, but it could make a huge difference in the efficiency of drug manufacture."

According to the statement, introducing the self-assembled monolayer into a reactor also avoids the usual problems of polymorphism, which causes huge losses to the pharmaceutical sector every year by affecting the usefulness of a medicine.

Roberts added: "Because this is a really simple solution to ensuring consistent crystallisation, it has huge potential commercially. Our next steps are to make sure it's just as efficient on an industrial scale."

The project draws on previous work developed through the Chemicals Behaving Badly II initiative, an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) programme that includes universities and industrial partners.

www.leeds.ac.uk

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