A new technology to help drug delivery in vulnerable patients from the University of Nottingham

In 1999, Professor Steve Howdle, a researcher in the University of Nottingham’s Department of Chemistry, was conducting basic research into the properties of ‘supercritical’ fluids; these are gases which, at a defined temperature, take on unique physical properties.

When he noticed that supercritical carbon dioxide (scC02) was able to penetrate certain polymers, he realised that it could be used to mix sensitive substances into the polymers.

Founded in 2002, Critical Pharmaceutical Ltd is a pioneering company which uses scC02 to mix drugs and other bioactive compounds with medically approved polymers, to allow controlled drug release in patients. This means patients can be saved the inconvenience of daily injections, or that doctors can ensure vulnerable patients with mental health conditions comply with their treatment. 

So research into fundamental physical chemistry has created the potential for major impacts in healthcare. Although still in its early stages, the company has already attracted more than £1.7m from investors, and its technology has the potential to provide novel solutions to major healthcare problems such as growth hormone deficiency and schizophrenia.

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