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Personalised Medicine

Every patient is different. The Department of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics researches how to produce matching medication. A cooperation agreement with Oslo will expand the scope of research and teaching.

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How well the body can absorb a medicine not only depends on the shape of its packaging.

»The era of using a single drug to treat a disease is over. We need individualised, personalised treatments,« said Regina Scherließ, professor of pharmaceutical technology. Which is one of the reasons why she has engaged Ingunn Tho as a guest professor for this summer semester in Kiel. Tho researches customised medicine at the University of Oslo, and is an expert when it comes to »packaging« active substances to achieve optimal results for each patient. She doesn’t focus on the development of new drugs, but rather on ensuring the right dosage form, i.e. the correct dose and form of a drug. For example, the active substance acetylsalicylic acid – also known as ACE – used mainly against fever and headaches, is available as a conventional tablet as well as granules, chewing tablets and effervescent tablets. The form in which a drug is administered affects the processes taking place at bodily interfaces, and thus, for example, how quickly the body absorbs the medicine.

»Previously, drugs were developed on a 'one size fits all' basis,« said Tho. »But people react differently. For example, if several diseases occur at the same time, or because children need a completely different dose.« The needs of children are one of the focal points of her research in Oslo. There, among other things, she produces thin-film drugs which dissolve in the mouth without swallowing.

Tho also investigates new technologies and manufacturing processes, such as 3D printing. She explores the extent to which it is possible to produce medicines individually, and thus also more flexibly and cheaply. »For my research, there are many methods and equipment available in Kiel, which we do not have in Oslo.« In the long term, this could also make the production of small quantities of drugs for rare diseases viable. »Although the first tablets from 3D printers are already available in the USA, there are still many challenges to overcome,« said Scherließ.

For Tho, the guest professorship is not her first encounter with Kiel: she worked at Kiel University during the final phase of her pharmacy studies, and discovered her enthusiasm for research here. An international exchange cooperation organised by Scherließ' predecessor, Professor Bernd Müller, originally brought her from Oslo to the city on the fjord. More than twenty years later, she returns for the Scandinavian guest professorship programme. In addition to the scientific exchange, Tho has also taken over some lectures, and co-developed new formats for exchange. »I was delighted that some people from that time have recognised me again – it’s a bit like coming home.«

The benefits of the guest professorship are clearly for both sides, emphasised Scherließ. »This is a great opportunity to also exchange ideas on strategic issues. And our students and doctoral researchers really appreciate getting to know new perspectives.« Tho’s stay should lay the foundation for ongoing scientific cooperation between Kiel and Oslo, and revive the student exchange programme. And when she returns to Oslo after this semester, she will take back with her not only new memories, but also many ideas.

Author: Julia Siekmann

Scandinavian Guest Professorship

The Danish Guest Professorship, which exists since 1964, was expanded to cover the whole of the Scandinavian area in 2010. Its goal is to complement and enrich Kiel University’s research and teaching with international lecturers, and to promote German – Scandinavian scientific exchange. The scientists research and teach for the whole semester, and hold public lectures.


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