This white powder is 5-aminosalicylic acid, also known as mesalazine, an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat inflammatory bowel disease. Lorenzo de Ferra, scientific director of Chemi SpA, a manufacturer of pharmaceutical ingredients, observed that the crystals settled in the reactor being used to make the drug molecule “in elegant shapes reminiscent of those of a white flower.” The similarity is heightened “by the stirrer that is seen in the center and resembles its stem.” De Ferra’s colleague took this photo after discharging the powder from a slurry of the drug molecule and its crystallization solvent. The combined effects of gravity and the reactor’s movements created the pattern you see here.
Submitted by Lorenzo de Ferra
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