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Anion-switchable supramolecular gels for controlling pharmaceutical crystal growth

Foster, JA; Piepenbrock, MOM; Lloyd, GO; Clarke, N; Howard, JAK; Steed, JW

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JA Foster

MOM Piepenbrock

GO Lloyd

N Clarke

JAK Howard


We describe the use of low-molecular-weight supramolecular gels as media for the growth of molecular crystals. Growth of a range of crystals of organic compounds, including pharmaceuticals, was achieved in bis(urea) gels. Low-molecular-weight supramolecular gelators allow access to an unlimited range of solvent systems, in contrast to conventional aqueous gels such as gelatin and agarose. A detailed study of carbamazepine crystal growth in four different bis(urea) gelators, including a metallogelator, is reported. The crystallization of a range of other drug substances, namely sparfloxacin, piroxicam, theophylline, caffeine, ibuprofen, acetaminophen (paracetamol), sulindac and indomethacin, was also achieved in supramolecular gel media without co-crystal formation. In many cases, crystals can be conveniently recovered from the gels by using supramolecular anion-triggered gel dissolution; however, crystals of substances that themselves bind to anions are dissolved by them. Overall, supramolecular gel-phase crystallization offers an extremely versatile new tool in pharmaceutical polymorph screening.


Foster, J., Piepenbrock, M., Lloyd, G., Clarke, N., Howard, J., & Steed, J. (2010). Anion-switchable supramolecular gels for controlling pharmaceutical crystal growth. Nature Chemistry, 2(12), 1037-1043.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2010
Deposit Date Feb 6, 2012
Publicly Available Date Mar 27, 2013
Journal Nature Chemistry
Print ISSN 1755-4330
Electronic ISSN 1755-4349
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Issue 12
Pages 1037-1043
Keywords Materials chemistry, Supramolecular chemistry.


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