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Saving millions on drugs


Building on 20 years'experience, Professor Ian Sutherland's team were the first to develop counter current chromatography(CCC) in the UK, acentrifugal liquid-liquidseparation-extraction processfor molecules. The research, undertaken within Brunel's Advanced Bioprocessing Centre (ABC), has sped up the world's drug production, resulting in millions of pounds saved. 

First used in the 1960s, Prof Sutherland reintroduced the method using newly available technologies, proving that CCC was scalable and faster in creating a reliable purification of a target drug compound. This has meant reducing the cost of bringing new drugs to market, increasing profit and minimising environmental impact of waste by 15 percent. 

A professor of Biomedical Engineering at Brunel, Sutherland and the ABC team recently helped Sichuan University in Chengdu win a £1million contract from the Chinese government for the continued development of the technology for extracting new drugs from Chinese herbal extracts.

Sichuan have just received approval from the Chinese FDA for Phase 1 clinical trials of Honokiol, a new anti cancer drug, extracted from the bark of magnolia trees using the Brunel technology.

The challenge now is to scale up the technology even further for Phase 2 & 3 clinical trials over the next few years.