Pharmaceutical Sciences and Clinical Pharmacy Research Group

Our aim is to bring about positive change on a national and international level, by not only discovering and synthesising new drugs, but by optimising the formulation and the use of the resulting medications, and driving innovative improvements in healthcare policy and education.

 

The innovative two-pronged approach of the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Clinical Pharmacy Research Group ultimately helps to ensure that we meet patients’ needs by delivering the right medication, in the right form, at the right time. 

Our research includes a particular interest in medicine optimisation and management for children, older people, and people with mental ill health. The research conducted within this group contributes the wider College of Health and Life Sciences specialisms of cellular and molecular biomedicine, and health and disease across the lifespan.  

We increase the impact of our research by working closely with the pharmaceutical industry, research councils, NIHR, multiple NHS trusts, community groups as well as a diverse range of populations to establish the safest and most effective means of delivering medication and healthcare services to patients. 

Collaborators

Our researchers collaborate with scientists in universities and world leading experts in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Our breadth of collaboration extends across the industry spectrum including early start-up companies (MaxBiotech Ltd, Aston Particle Technologies Ltd), small and medium enterprises (Proveca Ltd, Quest Healthcare Ltd, Enesi Pharma) and large companies (Colorcon, Catalent Pharma Ltd).  

Many of our projects include collaboration with the healthcare sector and national NHS trusts.

Funders

Our major funders include UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), National Centre for the Replacement Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), Innovate UK, Health Education England (HEE) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

People and publications

Professor Afzal Mohammed

Director of Research: Professor Afzal Mohammed 

Afzal is a Professor of Pharmaceutics within Aston Pharmacy School, a Fellow of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences. His research interests include the formulation, development and optimisation of orally disintegrating tablets, oral liquid nano medicines, particle engineering through controlled dry particle coating technology, and development of cell culture based models.   

Facilities

We have a dedicated state of the art cell culture laboratory to handle primary and secondary cell lines, and our researchers have access to world class imaging facilities in the ARCHA Advanced Imaging Facility to study the transport of drugs and characterise cell based systems. 

Our research facility includes fully equipped laboratories for preclinical formulation development. We have a number of specialist equipment including: 3D printer (for solid dosage forms), Sympatec particle sizer, HPLC’s, DSC, TGA, texture analyser, wet and dry granulation kit, helium pycnometer, and tensiometer to name a few.

Research themes

Medicines usage and health education

We look at health policy and education, patient testing, medicine usage and optimisation alongside the role of pharmacy within all of these areas. Our researchers in this area also have a specialist interest in mental health research, focusing on the pharmacokinetic, formulaic, and medication optimisation in people with mental ill-health. 

Our medication optimisation research links academic and clinical staff across the wider West Midlands region with a remit of understanding the implications from research for practice, how academia can support practice by linking with the appropriate clinical and pharmacy practice groups across the UK, and the ongoing impact of research in clinical practice. In addition to the critical evaluation of research projects to ensure relevance for practice and reviewing appropriate streams for the dissemination of research findings. 

As part of this theme of research, we are members of the Academic Practice Unit (APU), a collaboration between Aston Pharmacy School and the wider NHS. The APU focuses on teaching, training and research in three main areas: 

  • Near-patient pharmacy    
  • Pharmacy education    
  • Development of novel drug formulations. 
Drug discovery

Our researchers use innovations in synthetic chemistry to find new drug molecules and breakthrough therapies. We have a special interest in the fields of drug and biomarker discovery, material engineering, in silico and analytical characterisation and drug design.

Modelling

The initial stages of drug design are performed with the use of receptor-ligand modelling (docking and molecular dynamics). Pharmacokinetic modelling is also undertaken to help accurately predict the drugs’ efficacy as well as how they are absorbed, distributed, broken down and removed from the body. 

Research within this theme led to the creation of the West Midlands Pharmacokinetics Network (WMPN). This network of likeminded scientists based within Aston focus on a spectrum of patient physiologies to understand how variables in individuals affect pharmacokinetics of drugs and clinical outcome. 

WMPN works at a national and international level to offer: 

  • Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacodynamic analysis 
  • Modelling 
  • Workshops. 
Analytics

We test drugs for their biological effectiveness using techniques such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), bioassays, mass spectrometry and gas chromatography (GC).

Dosage form / formulation

We turn drugs into medicines while finding the right way to deliver them safely and effectively. We have expertise in the pre-clinical development and characterisation of dosage form ranges. Specific examples include particle engineering, spray drying, 3D printing, cell-based assay development and the formulation of oral and ophthalmic products. 

Within this theme, we have a specialist interest in paediatric research. Our researchers look at the pharmacokinetic, formulaic and compliance aspects of medicines for children; ensuring medicines are age-appropriate (in liquid or chewable form for example). Specific expertise and experience includes: 
Excipients and dosage form selection tailored for paediatric medicines 
Preclinical characterisation, dosage form development coupled with cell based assessment 
Pharmacokinetic modelling in paediatric populations 
Paediatric dosage form compliance and adherence evaluation. 

For more information on our paediatric research, please contact Professor Afzal Mohammed