Application and use of isothermal calorimetry in pharmaceutical development

Michael A.A. O'Neill, Simon Gaisford*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There are many steps involved in developing a drug candidate into a formulated medicine and many involve analysis of chemical interaction or physical change. Calorimetry is particularly suited to such analyses as it offers the capacity to observe and quantify both chemical and physical changes in virtually any sample. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) is ubiquitous in pharmaceutical development, but the related technique of isothermal calorimetry (IC) is complementary and can be used to investigate a range of processes not amenable to analysis by DSC. Typically, IC is used for longer-term stability indicating or excipient compatibility assays because both the temperature and relative humidity (RH) in the sample ampoule can be controlled. However, instrument design and configuration, such as titration, gas perfusion or ampoule-breaking (solution) calorimetry, allow quantification of more specific values, such as binding enthalpies, heats of solution and quantification of amorphous content. As ever, instrument selection, experiment design and sample preparation are critical to ensuring the relevance of any data recorded. This article reviews the use of isothermal, titration, gas-perfusion and solution calorimetry in the context of pharmaceutical development, with a focus on instrument and experimental design factors, highlighted with examples from the recent literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-93
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number1-2
Early online date26 Jan 2011
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2011


  • gas-perfusion calorimetry
  • isothermal calorimetry
  • isothermal titration calorimetry
  • pharmaceutical
  • solution calorimetry


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