NMR spectroscopy is a technique that can be used to identify unknown compounds because the atoms in the compound translate into a NMR spectrum. When we know the compound, we can apply the same principles to see where in the molecule changes happen. If we record spectra as a function of time, then it is possible to follow chemical reactions or the dynamics of the formation of a complex and see what parts of a molecule are involved.
On the way to its target in the body, a drug may have to diffuse through layers of water, mucus and cells. Surprisingly little is known of the fundamental processes that determine the transport of drug substances in the body. Many drugs are poorly soluble and therefore have a low bioavailability. The more of the substance that gets absorbed into the body, the better is the bioavailability. We are working to improve the solubility and transport properties of drugs by wrapping them in so-called "nanocarriers". Combining NMR and MRI techniques makes it possible to follow a molecule in space as a function of time. It is thus possible to determine the transport characteristics of the pharmaceutical substances and to examine the influence of nanocarriers on transport and bioavailability.