Scientists working in lab


Critical Pharmaceuticals is a UK-based biotechnology spinout company from the University of Nottingham based on the groundbreaking research of Steve Howdle, Professor of Chemisty at the University.

Professor Howdle noticed that supercritical carbon dioxide was able to liquify certain polymers, and in a moment of inspiration realised that this could be used to encapsulate thermally labile or solvent sensitive drugs to create injectable sustained release products. After a considerable amount of research he discovered that it is possible to liquefy poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA), and poly(lactic acid) (PLA) at near ambient temperatures in the presence of supercritical carbon dioxide. These two polymers are biodegradable and biocompatible and have been approved by the healthcare regulatory agencies for use in medical devices and for drug delivery for over thirty years. Once liquefied by the supercritical carbon dioxide it is possible to mix in almost any other substance, and when the pressure is released the polymers solidify around the substance, trapping it homogeneously dispersed throughout the matrix. The technology benefits from the fact that proteins and peptides, as well as most small molecule drugs, do not interact in anyway with supercritical carbon dioxide so there are no issues with drug stability. When put inside the body the polymers slowly release the encapsulated substance as they degrade.

Steve Howdle founded Critical Pharmaceuticals with Professor Kevin Shakesheff from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham in 2002 and secured seed funding in 2004. The company moved into the newly formed BioCity Nottingham and as the company further developed its technology and products it attracted further funding from leading UK investors including Catapult Venture Mangers, The Lachesis Fund, e-Synergy, East Midlands Business Angels and The Wellcome Trust as well as other angel investors and continuing strong support from the University of Nottingham.



Critical Pharmaceuticals has a strong, multi-skilled scientific, clinical and commercial team.

Read more

About Us

Critical Pharmaceuticals Logo on Door

Critical Pharmaceuticals is a Nottingham UK-based clinical stage biotechnology company.

Read More

Nick Wright, East Midlands Early Growth Fund
“For us, Critical Pharmaceuticals is an ideal showcase for the region’s excellence in pharmaceutical services. By combining worldclass research with knowledge of the real needs of the pharmaceutical sector, Critical Pharmaceuticals has made rapid progress.”