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University partnership with pharma company results in world-first tablet to treat chemotherapy mouth ulcers

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A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between UK pharmaceutical company Quest Pharm and Aston University has developed a world-first tablet to treat the serious mouth ulcerations caused by high-dose chemotherapy.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified researcher, known as a KTP associate. The UK-wide programme helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills.

Quest Pharm reformulates, manufactures and distributes medicines in niche therapy areas to meet specific patient needs. Its focus is to develop formulations where no suitable approved medicines exist.

One such niche therapy area is severe mouth ulceration in chemotherapy patients, which is very painful and makes it uncomfortable for many cancer patients to eat and drink.

Quest Pharm’s KTP with Aston University aimed to develop a way of formulating the first commercially available oral tablet to both protect the damaged mucus membrane and speed up the natural regeneration of damaged tissue within the mouth.

Aston University’s recent research in developing and optimising novel formulations for tablets that disintegrate in the mouth enabled Quest Pharm to develop a formulation for a product that remains intact in the packaging, dissolves and disperses rapidly after making contact with saliva and sticks to the mucosal lining of the mouth while allowing mucus to pass through. It contains natural products already licensed for use in humans, accelerating development and the route to market.

Majad Hussain, director of Quest Pharm, said: “Combining the expertise and resources of both the KTP associate and Aston University, we have been able to rapidly develop two commercially viable medicinal products that will help chemotherapy patients overcome the painfully limiting effects of mucositis.

“Tapping into Aston University’s research expertise in this area is fundamental to getting this project off the ground, and means that our unique products are now ready to take forwards into clinical trials.”

Professor Afzal-Ur-Rahman Mohammed at Aston Pharmacy School, Aston University, said: “The KTP has shown us how the research we do and the problems we are working on can translate into a beneficial product that can make a big difference to patients. The addition of a knowledgeable KTP Associate who can bridge both the academic and industry sides of this project has been key to its success.”

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