Using containerless methods to develop amorphous pharmaceuticals

J. K R Weber, C. J. Benmore, K. J. Suthar, A. J. Tamalonis, O. L G Alderman, S. Sendelbach, V. Kondev, Jeffery Yarger, C. A. Rey, S. R. Byrn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background Many pipeline drugs have low solubility in their crystalline state and require compounding in special dosage forms to increase bioavailability for oral administration. The use of amorphous formulations increases solubility and uptake of active pharmaceutical ingredients. These forms are rapidly gaining commercial importance for both pre-clinical and clinical use. Methods Synthesis of amorphous drugs was performed using an acoustic levitation containerless processing method and spray drying. The structure of the products was investigated using in-situ high energy X-ray diffraction. Selected solvents for processing drugs were investigated using acoustic levitation. The stability of amorphous samples was measured using X-ray diffraction. Samples processed using both spray drying and containerless synthesis were compared. Results We review methods for making amorphous pharmaceuticals and present data on materials made by containerless processing and spray drying. It was shown that containerless processing using acoustic levitation can be used to make phase-pure forms of drugs that are known to be difficult to amorphize. The stability and structure of the materials was investigated in the context of developing and making clinically useful formulations. Conclusions Amorphous compounds are emerging as an important component of drug development and for the oral delivery of drugs with low solubility. Containerless techniques can be used to efficiently synthesize small quantities of pure amorphous forms that are potentially useful in pre-clinical trials and for use in the optimization of clinical products. General significance Developing new pharmaceutical products is an essential enterprise to improve patient outcomes. The development and application of amorphous pharmaceuticals to increase absorption is rapidly gaining importance and it provides opportunities for breakthrough research on new drugs. There is an urgent need to solve problems associated with making formulations that are both stable and that provide high bioavailability. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled “Science for Life” Guest Editor: Dr. Austen Angell, Dr. Salvatore Magazù and Dr. Federica Migliardo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3686-3692
Number of pages7
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Acoustic Levitation
  • Amorphous Pharmaceuticals
  • Containerless
  • Spray Drying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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