Cracking the code for continuous processing and personalised medicine

Personalised medicine is the next great global challenge for the pharmaceutical industry. The vision of the pharmacy of the future is one in which  pharmacies employ disruptive technologies to enable on-demand manufacture of drugs designed to individual needs. For example, multiple medications may be prescribed that treat a patient’s exact age-profile and medical history. These medications could then be 3D printed into one tablet, on-demand at the patient’s local drug supplier.

Multiple medications may be prescribed that treat a patient’s exact age-profile and medical history

Central to this vision is the concept of continuous processing. Currently, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are manufactured in large batches at distinctly separate times. Continuous processing replaces this large-batch process with the manufacture of lower volumes but at a constant rate. This process enables the continuous flow of product, reduces inventories, and has less batch-to-batch variation, giving higher process control and higher quality.

Researchers led by Prof Gavin Walker at the Bernal Institute, University of Limerick (UL), are generating the chemical engineering solutions for the challenges of personalised medicine. This highly cited research is changing how we train chemical engineers, impacting industry competitiveness, and attracting R&D investment into Ireland.