A new project aims to transform the U.K. pharmaceutical industry by introducing new digital design processes.

The ADDoPT (Advanced Digital Design of Pharmaceutical Therapeutics) project is a four-year collaboration between government, industry and universities. The partners plan to develop and implement advanced digital design techniques that eliminate non-viable drug candidate formulations as early as possible, streamlining design, development and manufacturing processes.

This is expected to reduce the development time and cost of innovative medicines and enhance the competitiveness of the U.K. pharmaceutical manufacturing sector.

Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb will take part in the 20.4 million-euro ($29.2 million) project.

Among the universities and research centers involved are the University of Leeds, University of Cambridge, the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation (CMAC) at the University of Strathclyde, the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre and the STFC Hartree Centre.

Professor Kevin Roberts, Brotherton professor of chemical engineering at the University of Leeds, said: “The days of the blockbuster drug are numbered. Many medicines that are coming through are more targeted and we need a streamlined development process to get them to market.

“Instead of doing a lot of very expensive trial and error in the lab and in manufacturing design, ADDoPT will be developing the use of computer modelling and design tools to help plan the design and manufacturing process from raw materials through formulation, manufacturing and quality testing. The idea is to identify and eliminate non-viable drugs as early as possible in the process and concentrate time and resources on the right things.”

‘Digital design’ combines research insight and mechanistic modelling to provide links between raw materials, formulation, manufacturing processes and drug product quality. It spans all operations, processes and procedures during the development and manufacture of medicines, and their in vivo application, according to project coordinator Process Systems Enterprise, a supplier of advanced process modelling technology.