Supercritical fluid spray processes for microencapsulation and formation of submicron aqueous dispersions of pharmaceutical compounds
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Precipitation with a Compressed Fluid Antisolvent (PCA) and Rapid Expansion from Supercritical Solution (RESS) are two processes based on supercritical fluids that are capable of producing submicron particles. Novel variations of these basic processes have been examined to produce stable particles of various pharmaceutical compounds. PCA is an antisolvent precipitation technique where an organic solution of drug + polymer in solvent is atomized (sprayed) into supercritical (SC) CO₂. Upon liquid mixing, the solute materials precipitate to form microparticles. A Vapor-over-Liquid technique has been used to produce larger, uniform particle sizes of biodegradable polymers. By suspending a protein in the solvent phase, the protein can be encapsulated/coated by the precipitating polymer. RESS is a process by which a homogeneous solution at supercritical conditions is sprayed through an expansion nozzle to atmospheric conditions. The resultant change in phase leads to the precipitation of the solute materials. The production of extremely small particles (<50 nm) have been predicted but rarely demonstrated. Typically, particle growth occurs to form larger (~1 μm) particles. A novel adaptation was developed, dubbed RESAS (Rapid Expansion from Supercritical to Aqueous Solution), wherein the expansion is conducted within an aqueous environment. The aqueous phase can contain surfactant or lipid stabilizers to capture and preserve submicron particles of water-insoluble drug actives in the form of a suspension.