BASF and top universities jointly develop process to improve bioavailability of active ingredients

Supersonic spray-drying process yields stable and soluble amorphous nanoparticles

BASF scientists, in collaboration with researchers from Harvard and Yale universities in the US and EPFL in Switzerland, have developed a new process that makes amorphous nanoparticles with increased solubility. This improves the efficient uptake of drugs in the human body. Without such processing drug molecules would arrange in the form of crystals, which are difficult to dissolve. In many cases the development of innovative drugs has been discontinued owing to poor solubility.

The international research team has developed a microfluidic nebuliser to create very small nanoparticles from drugs that are first dissolved in a solvent and then exposed to a stream of air with a speed of 600m/sec, which is almost twice the speed of sound.

'The high-speed air flow enables fast evaporation of the solvent, which leaves no time for the molecules to arrange themselves in the form of a crystal. Molecules, therefore, arrange themselves randomly in an amorphous structure and are ten times easier to dissolve,' said Dr Christian Holtze, Research Manager at BASF.

The process can be applied to both organic and inorganic substances making it attractive for numerous potential applications. The increased solubility means higher uptake of active ingredients, which is particularly valuable to pharmacology, the food industry and crop protection.

'This system offers exceptionally good control over the composition, structure and the size of particles, enabling the formation of new materials,' said Esther Amstad, Professor at EPFL and formerly a researcher at Harvard.

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