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Pictured in Washington recently at the announcement of the “Centre to Centre” collaboration between SSPC at the University of Limerick, C-SOPS at Purdue University and Rutgers University and CPS at Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland.

A tripartite US-Ireland R&D partnership was announced at an event hosted in Washington D.C. by Science Foundation Ireland to celebrate scientific collaboration between Ireland and the United States.  The “Centre-to-Centre” collaboration project is titled ‘Partnership in continuous manufacturing for nano-based drug products.’

This project links together three of the world’s significant research centres in pharmaceutical manufacturing: The Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre, Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) located at University of Limerick, Ireland; The Center for Structured Organic Particulate Systems (C-SOPS) at Purdue University and Rutgers University, USA; and The Centre for Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPS) at Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland. The alliance builds on the combination of expertise of these three centres: SSPC for upstream continuous processing for drug synthesis and crystallisation; CSOPS for continuous drug product manufacture; and MPRI for polymers for drug delivery.  

The project will be funded by: Science Foundation Ireland in Ireland, the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the US, and the Department of Employment and Learning Northern Ireland (DEL/NI) in the UK. 

Prof. Kieran Hodnett, SSPC Scientific Director said: “At present the manufacture of nano-particles of medicines on a commercial scale remains a major challenge. The Irish American Partnership Programme offers an exciting opportunity to work towards the development of continuous manufacturing to address this challenge. The combined expertise of this collaboration should result in new solutions to increase operating efficiency in the manufacturing of new medicines.”

The overarching goal of this “Centre-to-Centre” collaboration is to establish and deliver new end-to-end continuous manufacturing capabilities for poorly soluble micron and nano-sized drugs. The objective of this project is to transform the global supply chain for medicines by developing techniques capable of making nano-particulate active pharmaceutical ingredients and retaining their desirable nano properties throughout the entire manufacturing process. This will increase the number of available medicines, improve production efficiency and minimize the quantities of dangerous chemicals in production. 

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “I welcome the partnership between these three research Centres and encourage the growth and collaboration of scientific links between our countries. These partnerships are not only advancing scientific research but are also delivering important economic, societal and reputational benefits for Ireland.”

Prof. Gavin Walker, Bernal Chair of Pharmaceutical Powder Engineering, University of Limerick said: “The Centre-to-Centre research will be integral to the Bernal Project, a €52 million strategic investment focused on physical sciences and engineering at University of Limerick. The Centre-to-Centre project aims to catalyse research between SSPC and our partner institutions in the US and NI. Moreover, the research project is aligned to Science Foundation Ireland and SSPC goals of maximising impact and supporting Ireland’s pharmaceutical manufacturing excellence.”

Prof. Gavin P. Andrews, Chair of Pharmaceutical Engineering at Queen’s University, Belfast added: “The Centre of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast has significant interest in emerging pharmaceutical technologies and are delighted to be an integral member of a large tripartite research consortium that brings together internationally leading research centres from across the US, Ireland and the UK. This unique collaboration has the potential to be evolutionary in its impact and represents a wonderful opportunity to develop novel and innovative continuous processes that ensure manufacturing keeps pace with rapid changes within the global pharmaceutical R&D environment."

Continuous manufacturing is a major step towards improved process reliability, product quality and the reduction of development and manufacturing cost. Advances in manufacturing will help deliver higher quality and more affordable medicines in both developed and developing nations.  

Dr. Rohit Ramachandran, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemical & Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers University said: “The Centre for Structured Organic Particulate Systems (C-SOPS) develops programmes that foster academic-industrial interactions. The newly formed Centre-to-Centre collaboration project will not only promote this but will also set the basis to aid better product consistency and process capabilities.”

The collaboration will promote interdisciplinary research among research centres, bring together experts in process engineering, material science and pharmaceutical science and promote job creation in the pharmaceutical sector in Ireland, USA, and Northern Ireland. The young researchers involved will develop as global scientists and engineers with improved cultural awareness, technical, leadership and communications skills.  

Zoltan Nagy, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University said: “In an ever changing global pharmaceutical market, many conditions drive the need to introduce new processes on a regular basis. The promotion of inter-disciplinary research among centres across the globe will help improve future process reliability and product quality.”

Each researcher (graduate student or postdoctoral fellow) will spend three to six months at a partner international institution as part of the collaboration. Senior researchers (faculty) will undertake shorter visits, to present seminars and training courses. Where possible, the international experience will be linked to an industry placement.