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New research to make medicine cheaper and more effective for patients


A £1.1million project could make it easier and cheaper for pharmaceutical companies to develop new medicines that work effectively for patients.

ֱ߲ Leicester (ֱ߲)’s Professor Mingzhong Li and Professor Walkiria Schlindwein were awarded more than £674,890 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the project, working alongside a team at the University of Surrey which received £409,247.

generic tablets

The team aims to create models that can accurately predict how medicines are released from immediate release (IR) tablets, which are designed to release the active ingredients rapidly once swallowed.

These tablets are commonly used for medications that need to act quickly, such as headache tablets or antacids. Currently, the process of developing the tablets involves creating many physical protypes and multiple testing to determine the optimum formulas to ensure the medicine works as intended.

By using computer simulations and experiments to develop the models, the researchers hope to streamline this process. This would allow pharmaceutical companies to design and test immediate release tablets virtually, speeding up the development of new drugs – and ultimately, meaning new medicines could be brought to market more quickly and cheaply than present.

Professor Li, who is leading the project, is Professor of Crystal Engineering and Drug Delivery at ֱ߲’s Leicester School of Pharmacy. Prof Li's research is focused on solving key challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry for improvements in production quality and reduction in manufacturing costs through utilising cutting edge analytical and modelling technique

Professor Schlindwein is Professor of Pharmaceutics  in the Leicester School of Pharmacy and has collaborated with Professor Li on the drug formulations and dissolution studies.

Mingzhong on campus

Professor Li said: “Tablets account for the vast majority of medicines that our health systems rely on and provide the quality of life we have come to expect of the past century. Despite being deceptively well understood, tablet design and manufacturing are challenging.

“This demands a detailed understanding of the interrelationship between physical properties of the ingredients, drug/excipient interaction within blended powder and tabletted formulations, and subsequently the underlying disintegration and dissolution mechanisms which occur when the tablet comes in contact with physiological fluid.

“In this project, we are aiming to develop the fundamental understandings of how a tablet releases the active pharmaceutical ingredients in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to a step change in our ability to model, analyse, and design the pharmaceutical products.”   

This project involves collaboration between experts from different universities, bringing together knowledge from chemistry, manufacturing, and computer modelling.

It will run from Jul 1 to 30 June 2027. The project is led by ֱ߲ Professors Mingzhong Li and Walkiria Schlindwein, and involves collaboration with researchers from the University of Surrey Professor Chuan-Yu Wu and Dr Carol Crean.

A £1.1million project could make it easier and cheaper for pharmaceutical companies to develop new medicines that work effectively for patients.
Posted on Wednesday 8 May 2024

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