The research work in Pharmacy at the University of Tartu combines a broad range of scientific disciplines that are critical to drug discovery, physical materials research, pharmaceutical formulation development, manufacturing process research and drug therapy.
The current research topic areas include
- the preparation of bioactive substances,
- chemical drug analysis,
- physical pharmacy,
- molecular-based pharmaceutical technology (with a special focus on oral solid dosage forms and topical active-loaded wound preparations),
- modern continuous manufacturing technologies (electrospinning and 3D printing),
- nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems and their biological effects and safety on humans, and
- development of medication use review services and safe use of medicines by older patients.
We have the core research groups in Physical pharmacy & Pharmaceutical nanotechnology, Pharmacognosy and Social pharmacy. Each research group is small consisting of total only 5-8 early-stage and established scientists (including visiting researchers). Taking into account the current resources and the number of people, the scientific level of our research work can be regarded as excellent.
The primary goals are to obtain the overall understanding of the physical solid-state properties of pharmaceutical materials (drugs and excipients) and to gain knowledge of the process induced transformations (PITs). We also investigate the effects of various excipients on the hydrate formation, develop new formulations for poorly water-soluble drugs (amorphous solid dispersions), investigate micro- and nanofibrous material properties, and develop new techniques for particle surface modification for improving the powder properties that are needed for successful manufacturing of oral solid dosage forms. The research work in Physical pharmacy will set basis for all formulation innovations related to poorly water-soluble drugs, amorphous solid dispersions, as well as electrospun nanofibrous systems.
Nanotechnology and nanomedicine open up many exciting opportunities in drug therapy in the future. We aim to accomplish the current externally funded research projects and to actively find new research areas to collaborate with the other multidisciplinary research groups.
The on-going research works in Pharmaceutical nanotechnology investigate the innovative formulations and manufacturing technologies for nanomedicines (nanoparticles, liposomes, nanofibers, etc.). The major research interests include (but are not limited to):
- Nanomedicines of poorly water-soluble drugs,
- Multifunctional nanofibrous medicines and bioscaffolds for wound therapy,
- Nozzleless electrospinning techniques of nanofibers, and
- Printed nanomaterial substrates and drug delivery systems for personalized drug therapy.
In addition, we develop and test novel process analytical technologies (PAT) for nanofabrication processes. Our own patented nozzle-free ultrasound-enhanced electro-spinning (USES) technology will be further developed.
We also aim to establish a high-standard and internationally recognized pharmaceutical electrospinning and nanofibers research platform.
In the research work on Pharmacognosy, the primary research interests are to detect qualitative and quantitative content of biologically active substances such as terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids, antracenes and other polyphenolics in different plant material as in natural sources of phytomedicines.
The research work is mostly dealing with the evaluation and improvement of patient centered pharmaceutical care services in Estonia: development and implementation of quality guidelines for community and hospital pharmacy setting, safe use of medicines, medical technology in pharmacy, competency based pharmacy education.
Societal impact of research
The Institute of Pharmacy welcomes R&D collaboration with the key stakeholders. In recent years, we have had successful joint R&D collaboration with private research-orientated SMEs companies and cooperation with the Regulatory Authorities.
Several researchers at the Institute of Pharmacy are highely valued for their expertise and are nominated as experts in the European Pharmacopoiea commitees (for example Ph. Eur. Group of Experts 12 (Dosage forms and methods)) or Estonian State Agency of Medicine.
The Institute had also an unique research collaboration (even at the global level) between the researchers of Social pharmacy and Medical technology.
The joint research topics and publications are focused at societal aspects covering e.g., automated multiple-dose dispensing field and industry, medical devices in community pharmacies, novel personal medical devices, etc.
Increasing the societal visibility and status of Pharmaceutical sciences through increasing and establishing contacts with the key stakeholders, health-care associations and regulatory authorities, has been set one of the priority areas of the Institute.