DUBLIN, Ireland - A Dublin-based consortium has secured ECU224,000 (US$258,740) from the European Union's information technology program to apply high-performance computing technology to the development of drug-delivery systems.

The department of pharmaceutics at Trinity College Dublin and the Hitachi Dublin Laboratory, based on the college's campus, are the prime contractors on the project, which has received ECU400,000 in total funding. The department of mathematics at Trinity and Dublin-based Elan Corp. also are involved.

The project partners believe this is the first application of the technology in the area of drug delivery, as opposed to drug design. The project's main focus is to build a computer model that can cut the time needed to develop and test new controlled-release drug formulations.

“We'd hope to prove that there are ways of improving the process and shortening the whole time for process development,“ said Anne-Marie Healy, of the department of pharmaceutics at Trinity.

Once developed, the software model will be calibrated against known drug-delivery systems. Initially, the project team will work with traditional chemical entities used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and hypertension, Healy said. The simulation data will be compared with in vitro data on drug-release profiles of differing formulations. - Cormac Sheridan