To successfully develop new active pharmaceutical ingredients and gain approval, Researchers need the precise 3D structure of the substances. If they comprise of individual crystals, the spatial structure can be established using X-ray structural analysis. In many cases, however, Researchers have access only to powder, blends of crystalline grains between 10–500 nm in size.
The Swiss Nanoscience Institute recently funded the A3EDPI project headed by Dr. Tim Grüne from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). The project is a multi-disciplinary collaboration conducted by academic groups from the PSI and Uni Basel (C-CINA), as well as industrial partners such as DECTRIS and Hoffman-La Roche.
DECTRIS is the global leader in Hybrid Photon Counting (HPC) detectors, and it was already associated in an earlier SNI-PSI NanoArgovia collaboration to substantiate the suitability of HPC detectors for micro Electron Diffraction studies.
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Since the result was very promising, the A3EDPI project is a follow-up and the central goal is to examine whether electron nanocrystallography can be used efficiently to shed light on the spatial structure of the various molecules.
As we are expanding into the Electron Microscopy (EM) market, a successful collaboration is a very important step in setting the basis for success, especially since Pharma companies are looking closer to the potential of EM to solve the structure of small medical compounds.
Dr. Clemens Schulze-Briese, Chief Scientific Officer, DECTRIS
In EM, the samples are placed under a high-energy electron beam. The electrons have wave properties; based on how the atoms are organized, a very detailed diffraction pattern is generated for each molecule that provides understanding into their atomic structure. Preliminary experiments using a few model substances have already returned data of exceptional quality. The team is currently examining whether electron nanocrystallography can be additionally developed into an appealing standard for the pharma and chemical sectors, and whether performance and quality requirements for industrial applications can be satisfied.
Figure 1. Diffraction pattern of a 400 nm crystal of the antibiotic Epicorazine A. The data quality is so high that all hydrogen atoms apart from one (yellow atom) have been allocated automatically and correctly – something that cannot be taken for granted even in X-ray structures with much larger crystals. (Image: Tim Grüne, PSI). Image credit: Dectris Ltd.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Dectris Ltd.
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