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Investigating the Interaction Pattern and Structural Elements of a Drug–Polymer Complex at the Molecular Level

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journal contribution
posted on 06.07.2015, 00:00 by Haichen Nie, Huaping Mo, Mingtao Zhang, Yang Song, Ke Fang, Lynne S. Taylor, Tonglei Li, Stephen R. Byrn
Strong associations between drug and polymeric carriers are expected to contribute to higher drug loading capacities and better physical stability of amorphous solid dispersions. However, molecular details of the interaction patterns and underlying mechanisms are still unclear. In the present study, a series of amorphous solid dispersions of clofazimine (CLF), an antileprosy drug, were prepared with different polymers by applying the solvent evaporation method. When using hypromellose phthalate (HPMCP) as the carrier, the amorphous solid dispersion system exhibits not only superior drug loading capacity (63% w/w) but also color change due to strong drug–polymer association. In order to further explain these experimental observations, the interaction between CLF and HPMCP was investigated in a nonpolar volatile solvent system (chloroform) prior to forming the solid dispersion. We observed significant UV/vis and 1H NMR spectral changes suggesting the protonation of CLF and formation of ion pairs between CLF and HPMCP in chloroform. Furthermore, nuclear Overhauser effect spectroscopy (NOESY) and diffusion order spectroscopy (DOSY) were employed to evaluate the strength of associations between drug and polymers, as well as the molecular mobility of CLF. Finally, by correlating the experimental values with quantum chemistry calculations, we demonstrate that the protonated CLF is binding to the carboxylate group of HPMCP as an ion pair and propose a possible structural model of the drug–polymer complex. Understanding the drug and carrier interaction patterns from a molecular perspective is critical for the rational design of new amorphous solid dispersions.