Improved drug discovery and development through use of novel iridium catalysts

Labelled compounds form an essential part of drug discovery and development within the pharmaceutical industry. Novel iridium catalysts, developed by Kerr at WestCHEM since 2008, have introduced a step-change in the ability to label pharmaceutical candidate compounds with radioactive (tritium) or non-radioactive (deuterium) isotopes.

The catalysts are applicable to specific types of compounds that comprise approximately one-third of all drug candidates. Advantages of the catalysts include greater efficacy (less catalyst needed and higher yield of labelled product, giving cost savings), greater speed (efficiency savings), and a significant decrease in radioactive waste compared with previous methods (environmental and safety benefits).

Even since 2008, their adoption within the pharmaceutical industry has been extremely rapid; e.g., the multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca now applies the Kerr methodology to 90% of their relevant candidate compounds.

Additional impact has been achieved by Strem Chemicals who have been manufacturing and marketing the catalysts worldwide since October 2012. Even in that very short period, multiple sales have been made on three continents providing economic benefit to the company.


First published: 17 December 2013