German researcher leads freeze-drying lecture at School of Pharmacy

Henning Gieseler, co-founder of GILYOS, a German pharmaceutical company, speaks at his lecture “Freeze Drying of Pharmaceuticals: a Survey of Accomplished Research, Ongoing Projects and Future Outlook" on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

The use of quartz-based crystals in the preparation of pharmaceuticals undergoing lyophilisation, or freeze-drying, allows for more accurate temperature measurements and a better product, according to a former researcher at the University of Erlangen.

Henning Gieseler – co-founder of GILYOS, a German pharmaceutical company – spoke about this new Temperature Remote Interrogation System at “Freeze Drying of Pharmaceuticals: a Survey of Accomplished Research, Ongoing Projects and Future Outlook,” a lecture sponsored by the School of Pharmacy on Tuesday.

The Temperature Remote Interrogation System, known as TEMPRIS, allows researchers to measure the temperature of solutions without interference from heat producing batteries.

“It is a wireless sensor you can put into a solution,” Gieseler said. “Think about a laptop that is connected to a wireless router that receives a signal and is connected to the Internet.”

The radio signals generated by the device, which consists of a sensor body attached to a flexible antenna, are proportional to the temperature of the mixture, allowing measurements to be made without interference from heat producing batteries and wires.

“It’s a wonderful tool because for the first time you can compare really the same data,” he said. “I can use my tempris probes in the laboratory and then use it in production.”

Consistent measurement is an important part of freeze-drying, a process which can extend the otherwise short shelf lives of life saving medications. If a solution is frozen at the wrong temperature, it can collapse, taking on a “chewing gum-like” consistency that makes it difficult to rehydrate.

“Run the product conservative, you get stability, you get an elegant cake,” Gieseler said. “If you process well above the collapse temperature you will compromise stability and product elegance.”

Products with cracks and bubbles are considered to lack “elegance” and will often be rejected by consumers even if the actual quality isn’t affected, he said. This makes it especially important to drug manufacturers.

Gieseler said he thinks pharmacology’s next big challenge is to develop more sustainable tools for doing this kind of research, particularly new refrigeration systems. 

“They pollute our environment so at some point we need to think about that problem,” he said. “Being from Europe, I think there’s a responsibility to step back and look at environmental factors.”

Gieseler began his postdoctoral research at UConn’s school of pharmacy before returning to Germany in 2006. His other work has included developing taste masks for orally disintegrating tablets and determining the collapse points of different substances, but he expects much more on the horizon.

“I have about 15 years experience with freeze drying and I’m still not an expert, not at all,” Gieseler said. “Every day I discover new challenges."


Kimberly Armstrong is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kimberly.armstrong@uconn.edu.