The University of Bradford will be £36 million richer today after selling its share of spin-off company Bradford Particle Design.
The sale of the spin-off to Californian pharmaceuticals company Inhale, for £200 million in cash and shares, was due to be completed yesterday.
The cash is more than the annual grant from the funding council. "I'm delighted," said Colin Bell, the university's vice-chancellor.
Bradford Particle Design was launched in 1994, after re-searchers at the School of Pharmacy recognised the potential of a new technique for creating particles of a uniform size. The technique was being investigated by PhD student Mazen Hanna, who with supervisor Peter York, Gwyn Humphreys and the university itself, established BPD. The company has developed a single-stage process to determine the size of particles in the manufacture of powdered forms of drugs - used to make pills, nasal sprays and injections.
The process uses carbon dioxide, held at supercritical temperatures and pressures, as a solvent. Conventionally, creating powder particles has been a laborious and time-consuming process.
"It is set to change the way drugs are manufactured, overcoming many of the problems inherent in the conventional multi-stage process used by the pharmaceuticals industry to produce solid form, dry, fine powders," Professor York said.
Defining the size of the particles could improve the efficiency of drugs, lengthen their shelf-life, cut production costs and reduce the risk of product recalls.
It could also lead to the invention of new products, and these could be created more quickly than before.
"(This) is good news for pharmaceuticals manufacturers and healthcare providers alike," Professor York added.
BPD has already reached agreements with 15 companies - including GlaxoWellcome - to evaluate its technique for use with 24 different compounds. These include drugs used to treat asthma, cancer and diabetes; and painkillers, hormone therapy and vaccines. The first compound should enter human clinical testing later this year.
Ten months ago, BPD opened its £1.2 million pharmaceutical manufacturing plant next to the university. Inhale is conducting human clinical trials of inhaled insulin, in collaboration with Pfizer.