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Improving Pain Relief: Is Better Aspirin Around the Corner?

Newly Discovered Aspirin Polymorph Offers Advantages Over Present Compound

A research team from New York University reports the discovery of new crystal form of aspirin, termed aspirin IV, that is predicted to dissolve more readily than today’s aspirin tablets, known as form I. If the type IV compound can be stabilized and made viable, it could provide significant advantages over current aspirin, by providing more rapid pain relief and by requiring less of the compound in each tablet. The achievement is the result of several years of progress and setbacks in the pursuit of stable, high-yield quantities of the specific crystal form, or polymorph, that is being termed aspirin IV. Details of the research were scheduled for presentation last week at the annual meeting of the American Crystallographic Association in Toronto.

The new aspirin polymorph was initially discovered in 2012 by NYU professor Alexander Shtukenberg, using an older method of crystal preparation called melt and quench-cool. Applying the method to aspirin, about 15% of the crystals were transformed from type I to type IV, but reverted to type I within hours of formation. In collaboration with NYU colleague Chunhua Hu, PhD, a research professor and X-ray crystallographer, the preparation methodology was refined and modified, eventually producing type IV crystals with 70% purity. The discovery represents the 3rd polymorph of aspirin, which existed in a single form from its introduction in the 1890s until the 2005 discovery of a structurally similar second polymorph.

Read about the discovery.

Dr. Hu's presentation abstract may be read here.