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Effect of Manufacturing Variables and Raw Materials on the Composition-Equivalent PLGA Microspheres for 1‑Month Controlled Release of Leuprolide

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journal contribution
posted on 06.04.2020, 17:33 by Jia Zhou, Jennifer Walker, Rose Ackermann, Karl Olsen, Justin K. Y. Hong, Yan Wang, Steven P. Schwendeman
The 1-month Lupron Depot (LD) is a 75/25 acid-capped poly­(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microsphere product encapsulating water-soluble leuprolide acetate with no generic products available in the U.S. Composition-equivalent PLGA microsphere formulations to the LD as a function of raw material and manufacturing variables were developed by using the solvent evaporation encapsulation method. The following variables were adjusted: polymer supplier/polymerization type, gelatin supplier/bloom number, polymer concentration, first homogenization speed and time, volume of primary water phase, second homogenization time, volume of secondary water phase, and stirring rate. The loading and encapsulation efficiency (EE) of leuprolide and gelatin were determined to identify a large number of composition-equivalent formulations within a ±10% specification of the LD. Key physical–chemical properties of the formulations (e.g., morphology, particle size distribution, glass transition temperature (Tg), residual moisture and solvent, and porosity) were characterized to determine the effect of manufacturing variables on the product attributes. The EE of gelatin across all formulations prepared (101 ± 1%) was observed to be much higher than the EE of leuprolide (57 ± 1%). Judicious adjustment of polymer concentration, second homogenization time, and volume of second water phase was key to achieving high EE of leuprolide, although EE higher than 70% was not easily achievable owing to the difficulty of emulsifying highly viscous primary emulsion into homogeneous small droplets that could prevent peptide loss during the second homogenization under the conditions and equipment used. The in vitro release kinetics of the formulations was highly similar to the LD in a zero-order manner after ∼20% initial burst release, indicating a critical role of the composition on peptide release in this formulation. The characterization of composition-equivalent formulations described here could be useful for further development of generic leuprolide PLGA microspheres and for guiding decisions on the influence of process variables on product physicochemical attributes and release performance.