A soft touch for a hard challenge

News - 22 September 2021

In a period where we all hope that we are leaving lock-downs behind, it is reassuring to know that pharmaceutical industry has shown consistent progress in recent years to address various manufacturing challenges to produce essential medicines at scale. Yet one elusive issue still lingers, controlling polymorphism—ability of a molecule to exist in more than one unit structure.

Polymorphic form dictates the vital physiochemical properties of pharmaceuticals ranging from bioactivity to solubility. Just think about coal and diamond to visualize how arrangement of molecules in space shapes a crystal’s physical properties. Consequently, selective crystallization of polymorphs is highly sought after in industrial practice.

TU Delft researchers, F.M. Penha, A.Gopalan, J. C. Meijlink, F. Ibis, and H. B. Eral have recently developed a technology to control polymorphism using soft self-assembled structures of common surfactants. This approach uses materials that are already placed in pharmaceuticals as filling. The team engineered these common surfactants to form desired structures autonomously and effortlessly when introduced in the manufacturing process.