Directed polymorphism may lead to better treatments

In the field of pharmaceuticals, the term 'polymorphism' refers to the existence of a single substance in two or more crystalline forms. These different forms can vary widely in their efficacy, bioavailability and even toxicity. An EU-funded project is working to develop a method for directing polymorphism in pharmaceutical compounds, thus promising better drug treatments for patients everywhere.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 25 July 2019  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Health & life sciencesDrugs & drug processes  |  Major diseases  |  Medical research  |  Public health
Innovation
Research policyHorizon 2020
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Ireland  |  Netherlands  |  United Kingdom
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Directed polymorphism may lead to better treatments

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© akebonostock #245658363, source: stock.adobe.com 2019

The study of polymorphism is very important in the pharmaceutical industry. Scientists have learned, for instance, that specific crystalline forms can exhibit unique properties that might not be exhibited by other forms of the same substance.

Different polymorphic forms vary not only in terms of their clinical properties but also in their physicochemical properties, including dissolution and solubility, chemical and physical stability, flowability and hygroscopicity.

The aim of the EU-funded MAGNAPHARM project is to synthesise in a controlled way the most desirable polymorphic forms of any pharmaceutical. Initially, this project is targeting 12 of the most high-profile and high-value generic drugs on the market, together representing EUR 18 billion in sales per year worldwide.

Specifically, MAGNAPHARM researchers are working to synthesise the lowest-energy polymorphs and/or the most easily processed forms with desired properties, through applying strong magnetic fields during the crystallisation process. The work is underpinned by a profound theoretical understanding of the effects of magnetic fields on organic crystal growth, drawing on the results of cutting-edge spectroscopic and crystallographic studies.

Until now, the development of new pharmaceuticals has often been hampered by polymorphism-related issues. The EU has previously funded major international efforts to direct polymorphism in pharmaceutical compounds, notably under the FETOPEN initiative. Thus, European researchers have already established that it is possible to synthesise specific polymorphs of pharmaceutical substances such as carbamazepine, indomethacin and paracetamol.

Exerting effective control over the production of the most pharmaceutically desirable crystal polymorphs is a paradigm-shifting prospect. The ability to direct polymorphism through the application of strong magnetic fields is expected to have a transformative effect on the production of almost all pharmaceutical compounds, and hence on all medical practice.

Project details

  • Project acronym: MAGNAPHARM
  • Participants: United Kingdom (Coordinator), Netherlands, Ireland
  • Project N°: 736899
  • Total costs: € 2 886 323
  • EU contribution: € 2 886 323
  • Duration: January 2017 to December 2020

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