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NMR sheds new light on polymorphic forms in pharmaceutical compounds

Scientists at the University of Warwick have used state-of-the-art nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques to shed new light on how pharmaceutical molecules pack together in the solid state.

Researchers made use of the UK’s largest solid-state NMR magnets, housed at the University of Warwick, to carry out the study in collaboration with Astra Zeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.

The analytical methods look directly at the hydrogen and nitrogen atoms that are at the heart of so-called hydrogen bonds which control how organic molecules self-assemble into different three-dimensional solid-state structures.

Professor Steven P. Brown from the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick said: "Screening polymorphic forms of active pharmaceutical ingredients is a key part of pharmaceutical development."

“The combination of high magnetic field and novel rf pulse methodologies are allowing us to look by NMR with high precision at the distinct intermolecular hydrogen bonding arrangements that help us understand why pharmaceutical molecules adopt different polymorphic forms."

“By using the University of Warwick’s state-of-the-art facilities we are able to shed new light on this complex area.”

Notes to editors

Professor Steven Brown can be contacted on +44 (0)24 765 74359 at or
Or you can contact Anna Blackaby, University of Warwick press officer, on +44 (0)2476 575910 or +44 (0) 7785 433155 or

The two papers are available to view at the following links:

Bradley et al. J. Pharm. Sci.

Tatton et al., CrystEngComm

Funding from EPSRC, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline is acknowledged.

The UK 850 MHz solid-state NMR Facility used in this research was funded by EPSRC and BBSRC, as well as the University of Warwick including via part funding through the Science City Research Alliance (SCRA) supported by Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The 500 MHz solid-state NMR spectrometer at the University of Warwick used in this research was funded through the SCRA Hydrogen Energy project, with support from AWM.

The Science City Research Alliance (SCRA) is a strategic partnership between two of the leading research universities in the Midlands, the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick, working across the technology areas of Advanced Materials, Energy Futures and Translational Medicine with funding from Birmingham Science City, AWM and ERDF.

Birmingham Science City is a regional initiative which develops and uses science and technology to improve the prosperity and quality of life of the West Midlands and the UK.