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Spherical agglomerates of pure drug nanoparticles for improved pulmonary delivery in dry powder inhalers

  • Hu, Jun1, 2
  • Dong, Yuancai1
  • Pastorin, Giorgia2
  • Ng, Wai Kiong1, 2
  • Tan, Reginald B. H.1, 3
  • 1 Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, 1 Pesek Road, Jurong Island, 627833, Singapore , Jurong Island (Singapore)
  • 2 National University of Singapore, Department of Pharmacy, 18 Science Drive 4, Singapore, 117543, Singapore , Singapore (Singapore)
  • 3 National University of Singapore, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 4 Engineering Drive 4, Singapore, 119260, Singapore , Singapore (Singapore)
Published Article
Journal of Nanoparticle Research
Publication Date
Mar 17, 2013
DOI: 10.1007/s11051-013-1560-2
Springer Nature


The aim of this study was to produce micron-sized spherical agglomerates of pure drug nanoparticles to achieve improved aerosol performance in dry powder inhalers (DPIs). Sodium cromoglicate was chosen as the model drug. Pure drug nanoparticles were prepared through a bottom-up particle formation process, liquid antisolvent precipitation, and then rapidly agglomerated into porous spherical microparticles by immediate (on-line) spray drying. Nonporous spherical drug microparticles with similar geometric size distribution were prepared by conventional spray drying of the aqueous drug solution, which together with the mechanically micronized drug particles were used as the control samples. The three samples were characterized by field emission scanning electron microscopy, laser diffraction, Brunauer–Emmett–Teller analysis, density measurement, powder X-ray diffraction, and in vitro aerosol deposition measurement with a multistage liquid impinger. It was found that drug nanoparticles with a diameter of ~100 nm were precipitated and agglomerated into highly porous spherical microparticles with a volume median diameter (D50 %) of 2.25 ± 0.08 μm and a specific surface area of 158.63 ± 3.27 m2/g. In vitro aerosol deposition studies showed the fine particle fraction of such spherical agglomerates of drug nanoparticles was increased by more than 50 % in comparison with the control samples, demonstrating significant improvements in aerosol performance. The results of this study indicated the potential of the combined particle engineering process of liquid antisolvent precipitation followed by immediate (on-line) spray drying in the development of novel DPI drug products with improved aerosol performance.

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