New technology to help drug companies save millions

June 7th, 2008 - 4:40 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 7 (IANS) A new technique will help drug companies save millions of dollars. It is a potentially valuable tool in drug manufacture, where controlling crystal forms is crucial both to cost and product safety.

The new technology identifies and monitors changes in crystal structures on-line, providing a method of ensuring production of the desired drug compounds.

Most drug compounds are crystalline. Their structure can affect their physical attributes and performance. However, changes in these structures are caused by undetected fluctuations.

For example “if you were to use a pencil to write on glass you wouldn’t get very far, but use a diamond and you could write your name. Yet both are pure forms of carbon.”

“It’s the same with different solid forms of the same drug; they can have completely different properties,” says Robert Hammond of the Leeds University’s Faculty of Engineering, who led the study.

“Drug molecules are becoming increasingly complex and the challenges involved in processing them means that it is not always possible to successfully produce the desired form reliably.

“That’s why there’s such enormous potential for our system. We’re now able to look at crystals as they are forming in a reactor, something that has never been done before.”

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