The 2D-Health researchers visited AstraZeneca (Theme III Industrial Partner) in February. Alfredo Gravagnuolo (former 2D-Health PDRA) has written this report of their visit;

How to make Medicines: Exploring the AstraZeneca Macclesfield site

AstraZeneca, a global Biopharmaceutical company, hosted the University of Manchester’s 2D-Health postdoctoral researchers for an interactive site visit.

Postdoctoral researchers of the 2D-Health project ( and the AstraZeneca team.


We experienced an interactive tour of one of the most successful pharmaceutical sites in the UK, AstraZeneca’s site in Macclesfield. During the course of the day, we had the opportunity to tour the manufacturing site and to attend brief overviews on a range of topics relevant to pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) and product development. Highlights from our tour can be found below:

How to make a medicine?

When a therapeutic agent is discovered, a team of scientists and engineers work together in order to develop the candidate drug into a medicine, including considering user-friendly routes of administration. The optimisation of a formulation for oral administration, in the form of tablets, undergoes multiple iterations to ensure mechanical stability of the tablets and to enable high-speed production.

Another tool that can be used is an artificial digestive system which can help scientists monitor the stability, dissolution and release of a tablet’s content in the gastrointestinal tract. The instrument mimics mechanical and chemical stresses of the stomach and intestine, and can reduce the need for animal tests.


Details make the difference.

Entire production lines are contained in aseptic buildings, which are designed to ensure the highest standard of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Features of the buildings, instrumentation, and human operations are meticulously planned to address logistics, sterility, safety and longevity requirements in every process.


The future is now.

Modern medical devices are often small and able to connect via wireless networking (Wi-Fi) to smartphones; this can enable live feedback to doctors and patients, while safeguarding the patient’s privacy with data protection systems. We learned of the fascinating recent evolution of a medical device for people with diabetes, from the first generation product to the latest available commercial device, which is easier to transport and to use.


Summary of our visit.

Overall, we had a fantastic visit to the site in Macclesfield; we had the opportunity to learn more about R&D, manufacturing processes, and careers and life at AstraZeneca from scientists, engineers and managers with diverse backgrounds in terms of skill areas, expertise and experience in industry.