Atomic Layer Coating to Inhibit Surface Crystallization of Amorphous Pharmaceutical Powders

Preventing crystallization is a primary concern when developing amorphous drug formulations. Recently, atomic layer coatings (ALCs) of aluminum oxide demonstrated crystallization inhibition of high drug loading amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs) for over 2 years. The goal of the current study was to probe the breadth and mechanisms of this exciting finding through multiple drug/polymer model systems, as well as particle and coating attributes. The model ASD systems selected provide for a range of hygroscopicity and chemical functional groups, which may contribute to the crystallization inhibition effect of the ALC coatings.

Atomic layer coating was performed to apply a 5–25 nm layer of aluminum oxide or zinc oxide onto ASD particles, which imparted enhanced micromeritic properties, namely, reduced agglomeration and improved powder flowability. ASD particles were stored at 40 °C and a selected relative humidity level between 31 and 75%. Crystallization was monitored by X-ray powder diffraction and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) up to 48 weeks. Crystallization was observable by SEM within 1–2 weeks for all uncoated samples.

After ALC, crystallization was effectively delayed or completely inhibited in some systems up to 48 weeks. The delay achieved was demonstrated regardless of polymer hygroscopicity, presence or absence of hydroxyl functional groups in drugs and/or polymers, particle size, or coating properties. The crystallization inhibition effect is attributed primarily to decreased surface molecular mobility. ALC has the potential to be a scalable strategy to enhance the physical stability of ASD systems to enable high drug loading and enhanced robustness to temperature or relative humidity excursions.

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Download the supporting information here: Supporting_Info_Atomic Layer Coating

Excipients and production methods mentioned in the study: HPMCAS, PVPVA, Hot Melt Extrusion, Spray Drying

Dana E. Moseson, Emily G. Benson, Hanh Thuy Nguyen, Fei Wang, Miaojun Wang, Kai Zheng, Pravin K. Narwankar, and Lynne S. Taylor
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2022 14 (36), 40698-40710

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.2c12666

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