Limerick research could speed up delivery of life-saving medicine 

Professor Gavin Walker, Bernal Chair of Pharmaceutical Powder Engineering at University of Limewrick.

RESEARCHERS at University of Limerick have developed a new modelling approach to pharmaceutical manufacturing that could reduce the time required to bring medicines to market.

The research is being led by Professor Gavin Walker, of the UL Bernal Institute, and the findings have been published in the world renowned science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

By applying molecular engineering methodologies to continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing, the UL researchers focused on speeding up the process of bringing new medicines to market for the benefit of patients and society.

The pharmaceutical industry has recently been increasing research in continuous manufacturing techniques to decrease the manufacturing costs of medical products, making them more affordable and getting them to more consumers more rapidly at a reduced carbon and environmental footprint.

Professor Walker, who is Bernal Chair of Pharmaceutical Powder Engineering, said the research offers a ‘proof of concept’ to model specific co-crystals at a molecular scale within a continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing process.

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“There is huge value in improving the productivity of the drug development process. This study expands on possibilities that exist for future development of progressing towards more supportive mechanisms in the pharmaceutical manufacturing space, improving processing and reducing time to market for new medicine,” he explained.

“Our research will aid the current pharmaceutical development processes of exhaustive empirical experimentation, in that time and cost can be reduced through this more controlled and targeted approach via Smart Manufacturing techniques.

“It represents a significant bridge by adapting mathematical modelling developed in the discrete manufacturing sector into effective techniques for improving continuous manufacturing in the pharma and biopharma sector,” he added.

The study was funded through CONFIRM, the SFI Research Centre for Smart Manufacturing and SSPC, the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, which are both based at UL. European funding was secured through the MSCA ‘Process’ Co-Fund.