Improvements to the oral medicine formulation development process

Published: 22-Mar-2024

Aston University have teamed up with Catalent to determine faster ways to identify the best ingredients for optimal medicine formulations

A partnership between Aston University and contract medicine manufacturer Catalent has led to a faster process to identify the best ingredients for optimal medicine formulations, and has been rated as outstanding by Innovate UK.

Catalent is a global leader in enabling pharma, biotechnology and consumer health partners to optimise product development, launch and full life-cycle supply for patients around the world. 

Its proprietary Zydis orally dissolving tablet (ODT) technology enables the absorption of drugs or active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) through the mouth tissues, which is much faster than absorption through the gut. 

However, the APIs in the formulation do not absorb well, and the formulation requires additives - known as excipients - to improve absorption.

Identifying suitable excipients is difficult, and so the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Aston University and Catalent was set up to develop a faster, more efficient approach.

A KTP is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified researcher, known as a KTP associate. The UK-wide programme helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. 

Aston University is a prevalent KTP provider, with 80% of its completed projects being graded as very good or outstanding by Innovate UK. 

The project was led by Aston University’s Afzal Mohammed, professor of pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy and associate dean (impact and knowledge exchange) for the College of Health and Life Sciences, who has expertise in the design and optimisation of orally dissolving tablet formulation. 


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He was supported by other colleagues from Aston Pharmacy School including Dr Daniel Kirby, whose main area of research is the formulation of age-appropriate medicines for the extremes of life, Dr Affiong Iyire, who has research expertise in the formulation of drugs for pre-gastric absorption, and Dr Raj Badhan, who is a pharmacokinetics expert with research interests in analytical approaches to predict oral drug absorption. 

The KTP partners developed a selection matrix, whereby, based on the API properties, Catalent formulation scientists can quickly identify excipients that will improve the absorption of the drug through the mouth. 

Adopting this novel tool allows for quicker and more efficient drug development and has the potential to increase the number of Zydis ODT candidates in the pipeline for future development. 

Desmond Wong, product development supervisor at Catalent, said: “This project has exceeded our initial expectations and has the potential to accelerate product development for our clients. Our strong relationship with the Aston University team on this KTP project highlights the transformative potential of collaborative research and its impact on pharmaceutical innovation.”



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