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CAYMAN Case Studies

Client Case Study: London Oil Refining Company (Astonish)

LORCO is a Bradford based business, which owns the Astonish Brand of household cleaning products.  Established approximately 40 years ago, it employs between 75 and 100 staff, mainly in production, although the company does have its own product development laboratory.

The company had a problem with its shower cleaner, which under colder conditions, suffered from a wispy, hazy precipitate, (where chemicals in solution start to solidify). They knew the problem was associated with a particular surfactant, known as APG, which the company sourced from a number of different suppliers.

When the Project CAYMAN team approached LORCO, who had worked with the University of Bradford before, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to tackle this problem.

Sally Pearson, a development chemist at LORCO, submitted samples to the CAYMAN team to run through the NMR and mass spectrometers.  The process found an impurity present in the affected samples, but not the unaffected ones, suggesting that the manufacture method of the APG may differ between suppliers.  It is thought that the impurity may stem from the use of a catalyst in the manufacturing process by some suppliers and not others.  The difference in manufacture method may be the cause of the precipitate seen.

Whilst the team at LORCO still has work to do, the support from CAYMAN has helped them to understand the nature of the problem and address the immediate needs of the business.

In the short term, the company has addressed the problem by carefully selecting suppliers where the impurity is not seen.  Whilst these sources are slightly more expensive, it ensures that LORCO can continue production and avoid recalls. In the longer term, they are working in the lab to tweak the formulation as well as working with other supply chain businesses to improve their processes.

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Without support from Project CAYMAN, the LORCO team would have continued to investigate the problem, but as they do not have the equipment available to the University of Bradford, they would not have gained the knowledge about the differences between the samples.

In Sally’s words:

“It has been a really good exercise to do, and it’s good to get an idea of what the University can do for us. They have much more analytical skills than us, so it’s good to get that third party analysis done.”

Client Case Study: WJN Partnership and Gluco Technologies

Professor Anthony Johnson and Dr Steve Wong are polymer chemists with a long track record in academia and industry including time at the University of Bradford where Prof. Johnson held the posts of Chairman of the Postgraduate School of Polymer Science and Head of Chemistry at different times.  Their interest in polymer reaction engineering has led to them setting up a number of their own businesses to commercialise products, as well as a successful consultancy business.

Having been introduced to the CAYMAN project, they were excited about how the NMR technology might complement their own in-house analytical capabilities.  After contemplating where NMR techniques could be most beneficial, two projects were devised (one in each company):

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Gluco Technology: Established in 1998, Gluco Technology was set up to commercialise a novel adhesive discovered by the team. Subsequently, Gluco secured contracts with many SMEs and multinationals, but as yet the team still consider that Gluco has not fulfilled the full potential of the adhesive technology which they believe still holds considerable promise.  This product is still being developed alongside a number of others.

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WJN Partnership: Established in 2017 WJN Partnership was set up to explore specific and broader areas of interest such as novel security systems.   They are also interested in the low-energy content manufacturing processes using batch and continuous methods to make finished products directly from raw materials, biodegradable polymers being a particular target.

To enhance their marketing and sales capability, the Partnership has joined forces with a specialist marketing and investment company which is providing the support needed to take forward projects for both companies. The hope is that the activities of the two micro-SMEs will lead to significant growth as manufacturing companies when the world emerges from the Covid 19 pandemic.

The NMR technology has allowed them to look at new polymer formulations being developed in both companies. The analytical technique has helped them to better understand interactions taking place between constituents in the formulations. It is hoped that this type of fundamental molecular information (e.g. molecular diffusion rates) will contribute to the macroscopic behaviour of polymers being designed e.g. rheological behaviour during melt processing. In the short term, the NMR studies have been carried out as part of the patenting strategy of both companies, with applications in train.

The pair were delighted to have the opportunity work with the new NMR techniques through Project CAYMAN as this type of analytical technology would not merit purchasing for their own laboratory.  They are thrilled that the University has expanded its analytical services with such a powerful new instrument and look forward to further collaboration in the future. In Tony’s words:

“The University team were utterly professional and have helped us to understand the molecular properties of our new formulations, which will help with the long-term development of our products.”

Client Case Study: MEDQP Limited

MEDQP Limited is a management consulting company based in Leeds who are early phase, medical experts.  Established in 2006, it employs around 5 staff and is led by Tony and Liz Lockett. e company is developing new inhaled treatments for COVID-19 and other lung infections, they have developed a novel drug delivery system that is capable of delivering multiple payloads of drugs simultaneously into the lungs. However, analysis of these pharmaceutical formulations is challenging, specifically in determining the amount of drug(s) that are encapsulated in the excipient particles and assessing the stability of those drug/excipient particles which is critical information required for regulatory approval.

When the Project CAYMAN team first met with MEDQP they realised that this problem may be solved by using the new NMR techniques being developed at the University of Bradford as a result of CAYMAN project funding. In particular, the CAYMAN team identified DOSY NMR as a potential technique that could be used to analyse the particles. 

Project Outcomes:

  • With help from MEDQP partners from the University of Hull the CAYMAN team successfully prepared samples of blank and drug filled particles for analysis by DOSY NMR.
  • DOSY NMR signals from the blank and drug filled particles were similar but over time the particles containing the drug started to show NMR signals that represented the free drug indicating that the drug was initially fully encapsulated in the particle and slowly released over time.
  • The drug release profile from the drug/excipient particles was determined by monitoring the DOSY NMR signal from the particles over time.

 The technical team at MEDQP wrote:

“The CAYMAN Gant project by the University of Bradford using their NMR spectroscopy will benefit MEDQP Ltd. It has confirmed that our chosen formulation meets our initial requirements. The project has shown an additional benefit by giving us the release characteristics of the drug. The enhanced data will progress our development of the next stages of the project. We now intend to ask funders for additional funds to develop further a product for upper respiratory tract viral infections such as COVID-19”

Following on from the CAYMAN project the University of Bradford team further collaborated with MEDQP Ltd on an Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst grant application.