Transforming medicines manufacturing

Article by Amanda Jasi

IN a collaboration between Imperial College London, University College London (UCL), and global pharmaceuticals company Eli Lilly, researchers are attempting to transform medicines manufacturing.

Eli Lilly is providing £5m (US$6.5m), which researchers will use to fund a virtual lab – the Pharmaceutical Systems Engineering Lab (PharmaSEL) – to be led by Imperial. Researchers will use the lab to apply Process Systems Engineering (PSE) methods to the pharmaceutical industry.

PSE uses computer methods and models to aid in the design, control and optimisation of chemical, physical, and biological processes. It has been used in the petrochemical, chemicals, and consumer goods industries.

PSE could be used to improve the pharmaceutical industry by increasing efficiency, decreasing waste, and resolving quality control issues of manufacturing processes. PharmaSEL aims to create these methods and encourage industry acceptance.

The lab’s first six years of research will focus on three areas – building more predictive models, designing more effective experiments, and improving the design of pharmaceutical manufacturing systems.

In the first phase, researchers will work on developing models that can better anticipate the outcomes of physical experiments. This could help reduce time to market, and lead to better quality, more effective drugs.

PharmaSEL’s work will fall under the remit of the Centre for Process Systems Engineering (CPSE), the multi-disciplinary research centre founded in 1989 by Imperial and UCL.

The new research will build upon previous work (also funded by Lilly), where researchers used computer-aided design to prove that the ability to predict a molecule’s solubility is directly related to successful drug development.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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