Advances In Pharmaceutical Development
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In recent years automated processes have been introduced into manufacturing, logistics, communications and many other industries. Automated process can have many advantages including increased productivity and efficiency. In a world where a quick turn-around is often a priority, the increased speed and output provided by automated processes can provide a competitive edge.

As machines don’t tire or get distracted, there is less variability when human involvement is reduced. This standardises the process, which can increase safety and quality standards. Automated systems can also be set up in hazardous working environments to minimise the risk to employees.

A decade ago, the technology that allows one computer to interact with another and complete tasks without human intervention seemed like science fiction, but it is now quite literally science fact.

Smart Screening

Scientists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Manchester have been developing an automated machine, EVE, to help in the development of new pharmaceutical drugs. EVE is capable of screening more than 10,000 compounds to discover which have the potential to target diseases without causing harm to human cells.

EVE has already identified a compound that could possibly be used to fight malaria. The scientists hope that EVE could play a valuable role in the development of cures for tropical diseases. This is a specific area where low levels of research are undertaken by pharmaceutical companies, because the prospects of generating a return on the high cost of development are minimal.

In addition to screening, EVE has artificial intelligence that makes it possible for the machine to learn from the processes being undertaken and apply this learning. EVE can independently develop a hypothesis, test it, utilise other laboratory equipment to run experiments, analyse the results and produce a conclusion.

This may sound a scary concept to many, but using artificial intelligence could reduce the cost and speed up the development of new pharmaceuticals. Having filtered down the list of possible compounds, EVE can allow scientists to channel their time and efforts in those which have shown potential during the screening process. This can reduce the volume of unsuccessful trials and wasted resources and focus attention where success is more likely.

Laboratory Equipment

Other laboratory equipment is also supporting the research, development and teaching of pharmaceutical science. The Caleva Multi Lab was exhibited at the Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Exhibition in Birmingham last year and it has been generating a lot of global interest, including from senior pharmaceutical lecturers at Chiang Mai University in Thailand.

This small bench top unit makes it possible to take a dry powder (20-30g) and pass it through a granulation, extrusion and spheronization process, then clean the machine within an hour. This reduces the time needed to either undertake small batch research, or teach the processes to students within a limited time period.

The granulation, extrusion and spheronization machines are detachable, so scientists only need to use or even purchase the specific elements they need. However, as a collective unit they cost less than half the price of purchasing three separate machines. This greatly reduced cost makes it a more viable investment option for universities and other laboratories.

The Caleva Multi Lab (CML) also takes up less space than individual machines, giving users more space in which to work and making it easier to store the equipment when it isn’t in use. In using small volumes of dry powder, it reduces waste and could be especially valuable when rare materials are being used in the research process. When a cycle of granulation, extrusion and spheronization is completes, it is quick and easy to clean for further use, or to store.

The Future of Pharmaceutical Development

Both EVE and CML have the potential to play an important role in pharmaceutical research and development. Further work will continue on both machines, to increase their value within the laboratory. With machines increasingly playing a role in supporting the work of our top scientists, we have the potential to solve more of the world’s challenges.

Caleva Process Solutions are UK based specialists in the development, manufacture and supply of granulation, extrusion and spheronization machines. From small bench top equipment through to the machines used in full scale production, Caleva has been providing solutions for over 45 years. For more information on the company and their product ranges visit the Caleva website today.


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