Mån 4 dec / År 41 / Nr 5 2023

Thermal analysis in health and medical sciences

TA Instruments is a leading global provider of thermal analysers, and also supplies equipment for rheology, microcalorimetry, and mechanical analysis.

TA Instruments began in 1963, as the Instrument Products Division of the DuPont Company. After spinning out in 1990, and then being purchased by the Waters Corporation in 1996, TA Instruments grew to be one of the leading companies through expansion and acquisition.

The role of thermal analysis
Thermal analysis is the study of how materials alter as the temperature changes. Researchers use thermal analysis to understand the properties of materials, in solid, semi-solid and liquid form, and the different thermoanalytical techniques have applications in pharmaceutical research and development, such as characterisation of drug substances, excipients and packaging materials. Thermal analysis also has uses across the life sciences, for example analysis of foods, polymers, and even biological organisms.

Case study: Center for advanced solid-state analysis (CPHarma)
CPHarma, the Center for advanced solid-state analysis, is based in the Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The center provides analytical services in research and development of solid drugs and dosage forms, ranging from analytical measurements to development support. This includes thermal, spectroscopic, and diffractometric analysis. As well as supporting in-house research, CPHarma also carries out analyses for companies on a contract basis.

Creating CPHarma
“When we decided to set up CPHarma, we wanted a range of thermal analysers. In my field, thermal methods are crucial. I had worked with TA Instruments’ analysers and other analysers during my PhD, and for my purposes, the TA Instruments outperformed the others that I worked with, because of their high sensitivity and high resolution. They were also of a high standard and very reliable, so it was an easy decision,” said Korbinian Löbmann, Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacy.
Löbmann is a pharmaceutical scientist with a focus on formulation and physicochemical characterization of drug formulations and delivery systems.
CPHarma’s thermal analysis equipment includes:
Differential scanning calorimeter (DSC)
Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA)
Thermomechanical analysis (TMA)
Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA)
Microcalorimetry (TAM III)
Dynamic vapor sorption
“These are all very heavily used conducting our research– in fact I could say nothing happens without them. They also tie in closely with our diffractometric and spectroscopic methods,” said Löbmann.

Working together: Collaborating with TA Instruments
For the first couple of years after the installation, TA Instruments used CPHarma as a demonstration site, running training courses that were open to people from industry and academia and users within the department.
“We have been working with TA Instruments for five or six years, and we have an ongoing relationship with them. A team from the company meets with us every year or so to find out how we are using the equipment and to get our feedback, to see how their protocols can be improved,” said Löbmann. “The company also has been a sponsor of two conferences held at our department.”
Working with TA Instruments has brought our research into a larger network, for example creating cross-disciplinary collaborations, such as a geomicrobiology team at Aarhus University, or researchers at the Statens Serum Institut (antibiotics, microorganisms).
“We can learn a lot from working with other groups,” said Löbmann.