Timothy Korter, professor of chemistry, has been awarded a grant from Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation for his work to interpret, analyze and model complex pharmaceuticals. The data that Korter and his team will analyze are gathered by a new type of terahertz (THz) spectroscopy instrument produced by Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation. The device delivers a high-power beam of light that can be used to inspect the quality of manufactured medicines in their final pill forms including cholesterol-lowering and hypertension treatment drugs.
According to Korter, each molecular solid that makes up a pharmaceutical tablet yields a unique THz spectral signature which can be used to detect and identify its components. Korter and researchers at Syracuse University will apply quantum mechanical models to analyze and interpret the experimental THz spectral data.
“Knowing the exact solid-state form of a pharmaceutical is critical for providing the proper dose to patients,” Korter says. “Even having the correct drug molecule, but distributing it in the incorrect solid-state form such as an insoluble polymorph, will lead to a completely ineffective medicine. This research will enable high-speed and high-accuracy profiling of formulated drugs to help ensure that the correct product is being manufactured and delivered.”
While much of the effort in the field of terahertz spectroscopy has focused on hardware improvements, including making the instruments brighter and faster, Korter says far less attention has been paid to understanding what the spectra mean and what can be learned from this information.
“The challenge of interpreting terahertz spectra is one of the largest obstacles to the wider adoption of terahertz spectroscopy,” says Korter, whose research group was among the first to successfully use quantum mechanical solid-state models in the analysis of solid-state terahertz spectra. “The collaboration with our industrial partner Hitachi will help demonstrate to others in the field and beyond that detailed and accurate modeling of complex pharmaceuticals is possible and valuable.”