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Microspheres: What are animal drug developers so excited about?

Microspheres: What are animal drug developers so excited about?

Microspheres — small, solid spherical lipid or polymer nanoparticles — are highly desirable drug delivery technologies for animal healthcare applications. These sub-1000µm particles can overcome some of the biggest challenges in the delivery of both small and large molecules, including a short half-life, poor palatability, and unwanted immunological responses.

But what is it about microspheres that excite drug developers so much? In this article, we highlight three of the benefits of using microspheres: an extended duration of action, better bioavailability, and improved active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) palatability.

It’s important to note that these three points aren’t the only strengths: see the full benefits of microspheres-based animal health products by downloading our eBook.

  1. Extended duration of action

In animal healthcare, production and companion animals can significantly vary in their nature — making controlled drug release by the oral route highly challenging (unless using intraruminal devices such as controlled-release capsules). Traditionally, to overcome this, animals are given more frequent and consistent doses. But dosing in such a way can be stressful and challenging for both the animal and their owner, and increases the risks of missing a dose. Subsequently, it can lead to lower compliance and poorer animal health outcomes.

Compared to traditional drug delivery methods, microspheres can significantly extend a drug’s duration of action, as they can be engineered to release their API slowly and over a longer period — even up to 12 months! As such, they can reduce dosing frequency, meaning they are more convenient, minimise animal stress, and improve compliance.

  1. Better bioavailability

One of the biggest challenges drug developers face is ensuring sufficient solubility of their API. Poorly soluble drugs are more rapidly eliminated than ones with higher solubility, leading to lower bioavailability.

Using microspheres can allow developers to overcome solubility issues, driving bioavailability as well as minimising toxicity. As an example, the process of microspheres manufacturing can convert the API from crystalline to a stable amorphous form, meaning the API will have better solubility and bioavailability. Consequently, as using microspheres makes the animal health product more efficacious, smaller doses are required — reducing the risk of side effects and lowering the consumption of raw materials and the API.

  1. Improved palatability

Does the thought of swallowing tablets leave you with a sour taste? It can be the same for animals, too — particularly as many pets have an elevated sense of smell compared to humans. Drugs often taste and smell unpleasant, meaning owners must devise ways to get their animals to take treatments, for example, mixing them with different foods or forcing the animal to consume the drug. Unfortunately, this can make the process very challenging for owners, and stressful for animals — negatively impacting the human-animal bond.

Microspheres can make a drug more palatable, masking both bad API flavours and undesirable odours. As a result, oral drugs are easier to administer, animals are less stressed, and treatments can be given more effectively to improve animal health outcomes.

Microspheres benefits are clear — but their development can be bumpy

Microspheres clearly offer a lot of advantages when it comes to drug delivery, but their development can pose unique challenges. For instance, developers need to ensure their API is compatible with the microspheres manufacturing process, and they must comply with rigorous regulations.

However, having awareness of any potential setbacks — and how to overcome them — will prepare you for development and maximise your chances of microspheres drug programme success.

Read our next article to find out exactly what challenges drug developers face with this drug delivery system.

Want to learn more about how to accelerate the path to market for microspheres-based treatments? Download our eBook today.

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