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Carbon dioxide may be drug processing 'shortcut,' study

By Alexandria Pesic , 10-Mar-2011

A new study suggests pressurised carbon dioxide can accelerate crystalisation during drug production, and potentially save manufacturers time and money.

Professor Jerry Atwood of the department of chemistry at the University of Missouri, US published details of the research in a recent paper entitled “A New Strategy of Transforming Pharmaceutical Crystal Forms.”

He claims that crystals can be created “with ease” using pressurised carbon dioxide at room temperature in place of more time consuming methods of production that involve in high temperature, raw material modification, washing, filtering and intensive drying.

I believe this could have huge implications for the pharmaceutical industry,” said Atwood. “In addition to streamlining processes, pressurising gas could circumvent some of the more difficult techniques used on an industrial scale, leading to better pharmaceuticals, more effective treatments and ultimately a lower price.”

Safer environment

The type of process used to create the crystals is dependent on the drug, but Atwood believes this new method will streamline manufacturing and provide a safer environment for workers.

He highlights the antibiotic, clarithromycin, and the acid reflux drug, Iansoprazole.as examples of drugs that may benefit from this process.

Ultimate goal

The paper marks the 663rd time the prolific professor's research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals. Yet despite his considerable success, Atwood maintains that his ultimate goal is to develop a chemotherapy drug with a magnetic component, to allow targeted delivery of medication rather than the more typical bloodstream saturation technique.

When I lecture a group of world-class scientists I tell them the good news and the bad news,” said Atwood. “The bad news is that we must make a major breakthrough like curing a disease. If we can do that, then our field of chemistry will flourish, and we will payback society for their investment. If we fail to make the breakthrough, society won't support us forever.

The good news is that just one of our groups has to do it, so the pressure is on all of us, not just on you or me.”

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