Mixed Polysaccharide Esters for Amorphous Solid Dispersion Oral Drug Delivery Vehicles

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Virginia Tech


Using various synthetic strategies, we designed several libraries of novel polysaccharide mixed ester derivatives for oral drug delivery applications. Cellulose and cellulose esters have been extensively studied and utilized for different applications such as separation membranes, sustainable plastics, and enteric coatings in oral drug delivery carriers. We sought to exploit the ring-opening of cyclic anhydrides, succinic and glutaric anhydride, to append ω-carboxyl groups to commercially available cellulose and cellulose ester substrates. We used scalable synthetic strategies and widely available and cheap reagents to show a proof-of-concept for the manufacturability of these different polymer derivatives. We incorporated different degrees of substitution of ω-carboxyl groups to impart a range of water solubility in these polymers. The derivatives displayed excellent Tg values for ASD applications, adequate water solubility, and good amphiphilic properties. We designed very effective amorphous solid dispersion (ASD) oral drug delivery polymers that prevented recrystallization of felodipine for hours and had excellent congruent polymer-drug release from the formulation at 20% drug loading. During the ring-opening reactions of the cellulose derivatives with glutaric anhydride we discovered that crosslinking and gelation can occur, especially with cellulose and cellulose ester substrates with a high degree of substitution (DS) of hydroxy groups. We isolated and characterized these gelled products using rheology, and solid-state 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopy, to evaluate whether the gels are physical or chemical in nature and proposed a mechanism for gelation. We determined that the gels are mostly physical but can proceed to chemical crosslinking over time. We designed a library of cellulose ester derivatives, and we investigated their performance as amorphous solid dispersion (ASD) drug delivery vehicles for the lipophilic drug felodipine, through in vitro experiments. Aside from felodipine, many other active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are also highly crystalline and poorly water-soluble. ASDs are used to disrupt the crystalline packing of these drugs through dispersing them in amorphous polymeric carriers, facilitating their water-solubility, and preventing their recrystallization. We showed that our polymers performed remarkably well in the in vitro studies and inhibited crystallization of model compound felodipine for several hours while providing optimal drug release, affording highly promising ASD polymers. If company formulators are unable to develop an effective oral-delivery carrier to prevent a drug from recrystallizing, then the drug cannot be tested in in vivo toxicology studies, and therefore cannot be brought to market because of its poor aqueous solubility and subsequent low bioavailability. To test the robustness of our polymers, we also performed in vitro ASD experiments at the pharmaceutical company AbbVie with their most rapidly crystallizing pipeline compounds, and several commercially available drugs (Compound A, axitinib, and ziprasidone). We demonstrated that our polymers could also prevent drug recrystallization with these rapid crystallizers, outperforming commercial polymers like FDA-approved hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose acetate succinate (HPMCAS (MF)), even at exceptionally high drug loading ratios of 40 times the concentration of polymer. α-1,3-Glucans are an emerging class of polysaccharides and are structurally different than cellulose due to their α (1→3) linkage versus the cellulose β (1→4) glycosidic linkage. We demonstrated that we could modify these derivatives using a variety of esterification strategies and TEMPO-mediated C6 selective oxidation, affording a myriad of different novel polymer products, some of which are structural analogs of the cellulose ester derivatives we previously created. The polymers had higher Tg values than the cellulose ester polymers, which may be useful for applications where heat resistance is desired. In the future, we will screen some of these α-1,3-glucan derivatives with poorly water-soluble enzalutamide, posaconazole and celecoxib model drugs, to evaluate their crystallization inhibition properties and the influence of polymer morphology upon structure-property relationships. We expect that these synthetic polymer strategies will offer scalable routes to novel ASD polymers, which we demonstrated to be highly effective drug crystallization inhibitors against a variety of different hydrophobic pharmaceutical compounds.



cellulose esters, α-1, 3-glucan esters, gelation, amorphous solid dispersions, bioavailability, polysaccharides, oral drug delivery