Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago have developed a novel continuous-flow microfluidic device that may help scientists and pharmaceutical companies more effectively study drug compounds and their crystalline shapes and structures, which are key components for drug stability.
The device consists of a series of wells in which a drug solution — made up of an active pharmaceutical ingredient, or API, dissolved in solvent, such as water — can be mixed with an anti-solvent in a highly controlled manner. When mixed together, the two solutions allow for the API crystals to form a nucleus and grow. With the device, the rates and ratios at which the drug solution is mixed with the anti-solvent can be altered in parallel by scientists, creating multiple conditions for crystal growth. As the crystals grow in different conditions, data on their growth rates, shapes and structures is gathered and imported into a data network.