Engineers have developed a revolutionary technique that could reduce the cost of making drugs.
Aimed at conquering “polymorpshism” – a change that alters the particle structure of chemicals and costs pharmaceutical companies millions of pounds each year – the new technology looks set to make “right first time” crystal formation a reality.
The system, developed by scientists at the University of Leeds in conjunction with drug company PLIVA, uses monolayers, a collection of self-organising molecules, to ensure consistent crystal formation in traditional chemical reactors.
Professor Kevin Roberts said the technology works in a similar fashion to the way oil sits on top of water, adding simplicity is the key to its success.
“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,” he said.
“This is exciting stuff, because it’s a relatively simple system that could make a huge difference in the efficiency of drug manufacture.”
“It has huge potential commercially. Our next steps are to make sure it’s just as efficient on an industrial scale.”
Copyright Press Association 2009