Money for medical manufacturing project

A project that aims to revolutionise how a host of pharmaceutical and chemical products are made has received £709,000 in funding from the Scottish Funding Council, under its Demand-led Knowledge Exchange SPIRIT scheme.

The project – a collaboration between the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt, together with a range of SMEs and multinationals including GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Schering-Plough, Fujifilm, NiTech and Warwick International – is focused on improving crystallisation technology for manufacturing.

More than 80 per cent of pharmaceutical products and 60 per cent of fine and speciality chemical products are made in crystalline form – for example, aspirin and paint pigments. However, current methods of making these crystalline forms is expensive, inefficient and their quality is difficult to control.

Scientists hope to use a new method of making the crystals that will reduce environmental impact by 40-90 per cent, reduce costs by 25-60 per cent and increase quality control.

The method will improve on existing processes where crystals are created in stirred batch vessels, by moving to a continuous flow production technique.

Prof Chick Wilson, head of chemistry at the University of Glasgow and leader of the SPIRIT project, said: ’New processes based on continuous crystallisation methodologies could have major economic and environmental impacts. This project will offer crucial academic input to the development of platform solutions applying crystallisation science to manufacturing, geared directly at the need of end users.’

The grant was part of a larger £8.1m funding announcement made by the Scottish government to support university and industry partnerships.