Crystals are all around us (and inside us)! From the foods we eat, to the electronics we value so dearly in modern society and the medicines we take when we feel sick, crystals play a significant role in our lives. This is particularly true in the field of medicine, where crystallization can be used to aid the treatment of disease, pharmaceutical manufacturing, but also cause of disease, biomineralization. In the Chadwick research lab we investigate the study of crystallization at interfaces and surfaces in order to develop a fundamental understanding of crystallization which can be applied to solving key problems in pharmaceutical manufacturing and medicine. Crystallization plays an important role in the manufacture of drug products and in my lab we aim to control crystal shape and structure in order to improve the bioavailability and manufacturability of drug compounds. Currently, my group has two research projects in this area:
- Engineering polymer thin films to control crystal nucleation, and
- Engineering API/excipient spherical agglomerates using emulsions.
We also engineer novel high drug loading, controllable release formulations by directly crystallizing drug compounds inside microporous polymer particles using novel manufacturing techniques. The above mentioned projects require detailed materials characterization in order to elucidate the crystallization mechanisms and determine the physicochemical properties.
The other area of interest in my lab is pathogenic biomineralization in humans. Calcium pyrophosphate crystallization in joints leads to a variety of arthritic conditions including pseudogout and osteoarthritis. The aim of the project is to prevent crystallization in order to halt or slow the progression of these arthritic conditions. The specific aims of the project are to understand the mechanisms of calcium pyrophosphate crystallization in collagen/hyaluronic acid matrices, to design crystallization inhibitors that can be used as a preventative treatment and to devise a physiologically relevant in-vitro model of a human joint to assess the efficacy of new treatments.