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Keil, Tobias W. M.; Feldmann, Daniel P.; Costabile, Gabriella; Zhong, Qian; da Rocha, Sandro; Merkel, Olivia M. (2019): Characterization of spray dried powders with nucleic acid-containing PEI nanoparticles. In: European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, Vol. 143: pp. 61-69
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Abstract

Localized aerosol delivery of gene therapies is a promising treatment of severe pulmonary diseases including lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, COPD and asthma. The administration of drugs by inhalation features multiple benefits including an enhanced patient acceptability and compliance. The application of a spray dried powder formulation has advantages over solutions due to their increased stability and shelf life. Furthermore, optimal sizes of the powder can be obtained by spray drying to allow a deep lung deposition. The present study optimized the parameters involved with spray drying polyplexes formed by polyethylenimine (PEI) and nucleic acids in inert excipients to generate a nano-embedded microparticle (NEM) powder with appropriate aerodynamic diameter. Furthermore, the effects of the excipient matrix used to generate the NEM powder on the biological activity of the nucleic acid and the ability to recover the embedded nanoparticles was investigated. The study showed that bioactivity and nucleic acid integrity was preserved after spray drying, and that polyplexes could be reconstituted from the dry powders made with trehalose but not mannitol as a stabilizer. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed trehalose formulations that formed fused, lightly corrugated spherical particles in the range between 1 and 5 mu m, while mannitol formulations had smooth surfaces and consisted of more defined particles. After redispersion of the microparticles in water, polyplex dispersions are obtained that are comparable to the initial formulations before spray drying. Cellular uptake and transfection studies conducted in lung adenocarcinoma cells show that redispersed trehalose particles performed similar to or better than polyplexes that were not spray dried. A method for quantifying polymer and nucleic acid loss following spray drying was developed in order to ensure that equal nucleic acid amounts were used in all in vitro experiments. The results confirm that spray dried NEM formulations containing nucleic acids can be prepared with characteristics known to be optimal for inhalation therapy.