KTP between Catalent UK and Aston University to speed up crucial pharmaceutical production 

Collaboration will lead to novel pharmaceutical development model

A KTP, co-funded by Innovate UK and managed by KTN, is linking academics from the College of Health and Life Sciences at Aston University with Catalent UK to produce a unique pharmaceutical development model that will speed up the typically long and complicated drug development process. 

Catalent UK develops and manufactures Orally Dissolving Tablets (ODTs) which allows for medicines to dissolve in the mouth or cheek, making it easier to administer medicine more accurately and simply – especially those who have difficulty swallowing traditional medicines. 

The idea was to develop a decision-making tool that can accurately determine the appropriate level of tablet absorption enhancer. Adopting this new, revolutionary tool would allow for a quicker, and more precise pharmaceutical development methodology, resulting in less waste and a faster time to market.  

Developing this tool would have required intense research and expertise outside of Catalent UK’s day-to-day scope, making external research and resources a necessity. With Aston University’s expertise in this field, a KTP was an obvious choice, giving the project a structured approach, with guidance from KTN’s Knowledge Transfer Adviser every step of the way. 

Ralph Gosden, Head of Zydis Product Development for Catalent UK said: “Aston’s expertise within drug transportation, cell biology, data analysis, and model cell line design, coupled with its world-class facilities, means that together we’ll be able to achieve something revolutionary to the market“.

The project is now underway with Professor Afzal Mohammed installed as Academic lead and Dr. Dan Kirby, Dr. Affiong Iyire, and Dr. Raj Badhan working as associates. Professor Afzal Mohammed is Chair in Pharmacy in the College of Health & Life Sciences (HLS) and a member of the Aston Pharmaceutics Group (APG). 

At this stage, the predicted results of this groundbreaking decision making tool may include: 

  • Reduction of CUK R&D costs by 75% over three years.
  • Increase volume of ODTs produced annually by 13.6%.
  • Increase its competitive edge by offering more efficient development timelines to produce better products, reduce failures and accelerate product development for its clients.
  • Improved patient compliance with medication will save the NHS money. Non-adherence is estimated to cost the NHS approx. £500 million every year. 
  • Assist CUK in achieving 6.25% of the total market of ODT doses.

Stephen Woodhouse, KTN’s Knowledge Transfer Adviser on the project, added “The knowledge and skills embedded by the KTP project provide a firm foundation for a series of future innovations by Catalent UK, supporting the future of pharmaceutical development.  Recent events have re-emphasised the critical need for both rapid and timely development of essential new medications and drug delivery systems.  I’m delighted the KTP scheme affords Ralph and the team at Catalent UK the opportunity to access world-class research expertise to support this ambition.  The project delivers critical industry scale-up in a number of exciting new areas; simultaneously addressing a variety of societal exigencies.”

The expected project finish date is due in August 2022, with the project outcomes also tipped to be integrated into Aston’s curriculum, thereby giving graduates case studies to develop their learnings. 

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