Monthly Publication Highlight - Dr. Stephen Byrn

November 28, 2017 - The Purdue College of Pharmacy is pleased to honor and recognize the outstanding research and scholarship generated by our faculty each month. This month we highlight Dr. Stephen Byrn, Charles B. Jordan Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Department of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy (IPPH).

Dr. Byrn’s recent publication, “Local Structure of Ion Pair Interaction in Lapatinib Amorphous Dispersions characterized by Synchrotron X-Ray diffraction and Pair Distribution Function Analysis” can be read in Scientific Reports (2017; DOI:10.1038/srep46367). Dr. Gabriel Lima Barros de Araújo, a visiting professor from the School of Pharmacy in Sao Paulo Brazil, and Dr. Chris Benmore, a senior physicist at the Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, in Argonne, IL, contributed significantly to this project. The study was conducted in the IPPH laboratories at ROSS Enterprise Center in West Lafayette, and at the Advanced Photon Source beamline in Argonne.

Anticancer medicines are sometimes patient unfriendly, requiring multiple tablet dosing with fasting and resulting in undesirable side effects. One approach to improve these medicines is to optimize the formulation with an amorphous dispersion using solid-state salt chemistry. However, this type of research is inhibited by a lack of knowledge of the structure of the dispersions. “Prior to our studies, it was known that X-ray powder diffraction data collected on a Synchrotron and analyzed utilizing the pair distribution function method provides structural information of amorphous materials, but this method had not been applied to pharmaceuticals and anticancer tyrosine kinase inhibitor medicines,” Dr. Byrn says. The paper describes, for the first time, the determination of the structure of an amorphous dispersion of the anticancer drug lapatinib and a polymer. The knowledge generated from this method can lead to formulations of anticancer drugs that are more patient friendly with fewer side effects.

“This research was exciting to me because we utilized the most powerful X-ray source in the world at a major physics facility at Argonne National Laboratory where, many years ago, the first nuclear reaction was carried out,” comments Dr. Byrn. “Just going to the laboratory (a two hour drive) is exciting and a privilege because it represents the commitment of the U.S. to advancing science. Further, the idea of determining structural information for the first time, and possibly using this information to improve anticancer drugs is very rewarding.”

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