A collaborative research project between De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and the University of Surrey in the UK has received a grant to help streamline and reduce costs for pharmaceutical companies in developing new medicines.

The project, which received funding of more than £1.1m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), focuses on improving the development process for immediate release (IR) tablets, which are crucial for delivering fast-acting medication.

DMU professors Mingzhong Li and Walkiria Schlindwein have been awarded £674,890 while their counterparts at the University of Surrey have received £409,247.

Li stated: “Tablets account for the vast majority of medicines that our health systems rely on and provide the quality of life we have come to expect of the past century.

“This demands a detailed understanding of the interrelationship between physical properties of the ingredients, drug/excipient interaction within blended powder and tabletted formulations, and subsequently the underlying disintegration and dissolution mechanisms that occur when the tablet comes in contact with physiological fluid.

“In this project, we are aiming to develop fundamental understandings of how a tablet releases the active pharmaceutical ingredients in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to a step change in our ability to model, analyse and design the pharmaceutical products.”  

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The project aims to create models that can predict accurately the way medicines are released from IR tablets.

The research team will employ computer simulations and experiments to develop models that could simplify the tablet development process and allow pharmaceutical companies to design and test IR tablets virtually.

This innovation has the potential to expedite the introduction of new drugs to the market, reducing both the time and cost associated with drug development.

Involving collaboration between experts from different universities, the project will run from 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2027.