Making Drug Formation Crystal Clear



Pharma IQ
06/17/2010


The perfect ingredients and compounds help to make many drugs effective, but the very best medicines developed by the pharmaceutical sector are also formulated to react in the most suitable way once inside the human body. Issues such as solubility, dissolution rates and bioavailability are key in the industry – and are also all reasons why drug formation has risen up the agenda for many firms.

One of the most notable aspects of the topic at present is the use of co-crystal formations, which are seen by a number of companies across the globe as an alternative to solid state development. The use of a lattice structure is becoming more common, meaning that investigation and assessment of the concept of crystallisation has emerged as a priority for many scientists in recent times.

The University of Bristol has collaborated with the University of Toronto to look into the issue, with two teams discovering a new self-assembly method for controlling the dimensions of cylinders created from polymer precursors which contain two chemically different segments linked together. According to the UK institution, cylindrical structures with nanoscale dimensions like fibres and filaments are attracting interest in a number of ways, particularly when it comes to the effective delivery of drugs around the body. However, the university added that a new process had to be created as developers need to be able to create structures that vary in length.

Published online in the Nature Chemistry journal, the report explained: "This process is analogous to the use of small initiator molecules in classical living polymerisation reactions. The length of the nanocylinders could be precisely controlled by variation of the unimer-to-crystallite seed ratio."

Professor Ian Manners, a senior author on the paper, said the method focuses on the use of crystallisation as the "driving force for the controlled assembly process".

"The work lays the conceptual groundwork for a broad variety of exciting developments - from the potential discovery of new phenomena to the creation of new nanoscopic devices, multifunctional catalysts, and controlled drug delivery vehicles," he added.

University College Cork (UCC) has also recently been considering the concept of drug formulation and crystallisation. In a partnership with Almac, which has been funded by the Science Foundation Ireland, the educational institution is looking into the creation of new methods to determine 3D structures from X-ray data. It is hoped that, in turn, this will both simplify and accelerate drug development. "Through the use of current X-ray technology, it is necessary to generate a single crystal in order to extract such structural information," Almac outlined in a statement. "This is often problematic and the pharmaceutical community have
been compelled to seek alternatives."

In addition, the company said that the combination of the expertise would ensure it could "advance the drug development strategies" of its clients. Gareth Maguire, business development manager at Almac, told Drug Discovery News: "This collaboration brings together the complementary expertise of Almac's expertise in chemical and pharmaceutical development and solid state chemistry and UCC's expertise in the intricacies of polymorphism."

The recent projects of both the UCC and University of Bristol have highlighted how crystallisation in drug formation remains high on the agenda for scientists across the globe. With continuing technological advances pushing forward the world of pharmaceuticals, it seems obvious that experts would use the technology to get to the very heart of the medicinal compounds they create.

With rising interest in crystallisation, scientists are now using nanotechnology to embrace new techniques that can ensure drugs are both as effective and soluble as possible. Such new developments are likely to ensure that the world of pharmaceuticals enjoys a very successful future.

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