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Organic crystal research wins EU funding

Dr Simon Hall

12 December 2016

A Bristol-led, international project investigating a new method of controlling the growth of organic crystals, with potential benefits for pharmaceutical development, has been awarded EU funding.

The MagnaPharm project, funded under the EU Horizon 2020 'Future and Emerging Technologies' programme, aims to direct polymorphism in pharmaceutical compounds by crystallizing them in high magnetic fields. The ability to direct polymorphism would have a transformative effect on almost all pharmaceutical compounds.

MagnaPharm builds on the discovery by Dr Simon Hall in the School of Chemistry that organic crystal growth can be controlled using magnetic fields. This innovative method will be applied to a range of pharmaceutical compounds, initially targeting 12 of the most high-profile, high-worth generic drugs with the aim of controllably synthesizing the desired polymorph of each (the lowest-energy polymorph and/or most processable form with desired properties).

Dr Hall will lead the project, with colleagues at University College London (Professor Sally Price), the University of Limerick (Professor Ursel Bangert) and the High-Field Magnet Lab in Nijmegen (Dr Peter Christianen) as Co-Investigators. The project also has the support of Astra Zeneca for drug function analysis.

The grant award is €2.9 million (£2.6 million), and the success rate for this round of the Future and Emerging Technologies scheme was 4 per cent. 

Dr Hall said: ‘With the 12 representative generic drug molecules targeted in the initial stages of MagnaPharm responsible for €18 billion of sales per year worldwide, and with the development of many new pharmaceuticals being hampered by solid form issues, control over the production of the most pharmaceutically desired crystal is a truly paradigm-shifting prospect.’


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