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Changing the landscape of drug delivery

Changing the landscape of drug delivery

Enabling the pharmaceutical industry to deliver better quality medicines

Most newly approved medicines are still delivered to patients as a solid tablet. In order to approve new medicines for use, the pharmaceutical industry has to thoroughly test the solid-state landscape of the tablet, checking how well the tablet dissolves and how effectively the active medications are absorbed and distributed around the body. Differences in the solid-state structure at atomic level within a tablet can affect the administration of much needed medication and impact on the ways in which medication can be produced and stored. Our research team, led by Professor Steven Brown, has worked in collaboration with global pharmaceutical companies to develop experimental approaches to characterise the solid-state landscape. These processes now form an integral part of development toolkits for the pharmaceutical industry, delivering better quality, and safer, medicines for patients in need.

The challenge

For the pharmaceutical industry, thorough characterisation of the solid-state landscape is integral in the approval process of new medications. Issues related to the solid state of medicines often result in their failure to reach the market, resulting in large losses for companies and hindering the availability of much needed medication for patients. Professor Brown’s research and toolkit for solid-state characterisation of pharmaceutical molecules in development has enhanced the robustness of this key step in bringing a new treatment to market.

Our approach

Since 2004, Professor Brown has worked collaboratively with the pharmaceutical industry to develop processes that offer insight into solid-state forms of medicines. Through a combination of 1H magic-angle spinning (MAS), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and density-functional theory (DFT) calculations, Professor Brown has created and developed a toolkit to minimise risks related to solid-state form in pharmaceutical development. This toolkit now forms an integral part of the development of medication for companies such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.

Our impact

World-leading pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, with a combined annual turnover of ~$100 billion, have actively incorporated Professor Brown's research into their toolkit for drug development. They have applied his approach to products that are now at market and for a significant proportion of the medications in their development pipeline. This has resulted in safer and more effective medications for the treatment of illnesses such as diabetes and lung cancer across the world. AstraZeneca and Pfizer have since made multi-million investments in the development of new solid-state NMR infrastructure to continue to implement Professor Brown’s approach. His research has changed the global drug development industry and the lives of every patient who relies on these medications, ensuring that they are as safe and effective as possible.

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