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The Best Method for Molecular Weight Reduction

Polysaccharides in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Polysaccharides are used increasingly in the development of pharmaceuticals. Examples of polysaccharide use in the pharma industry include as plasma expanders, carriers for water-insoluble drugs, in drug formulation, as immune stimulators and vaccine antigens. Because of their biocompatible and biodegradable properties, the body naturally breaks polysaccharides down to their building blocks. In addition to their structure, the polymer molecular weight can affect the properties of polysaccharides.

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Microfluidizer® High Shear Processing of Polysaccharides

Use of a Microfluidizer® high-pressure homogenizer for mechanical sizing is superior to chemical methods of molecular weight reduction. Chemical processing can modify the polysaccharide chemical structure, often resulting in highly polydisperse polymers.

A Microfluidizer® processor reduces the molecular weight without altering the chemical structure of the polysaccharide or its attached groups. Because Microfluidizer® technology exposes all the material to the same high shear conditions within the fixed-geometry interaction chamber, the final product is very homogenous with low polydispersity. When you’re ready to scale up processing, simply place additional microchannels in the chamber — this increases flow rate while maintaining the equivalent high shear processing obtained at smaller volumes.

Microfluidizer® and Pharmaceuticals

Various studies have confirmed the superiority of the Microfluidizer® technology for molecular weight reduction. Advantages were confirmed in two pharmaceutical case studies for conjugated vaccines containing polysaccharides. The studies conclusively found that Microfluidizer® technology is effective in achieving the target weight of polysaccharides used as vaccine antigens, in some cases with a single pass. When used for conjugate vaccine development, the Microfluidizer® processor reduced the molecular weight and the viscosity, creating a more manageable and easily filterable product.

A lab-scale Microfluidizer® processor, particularly the LV-1 model, is ideally suited for development. This model handles very low volumes, and offers a simple, controllable and reproducible method for determining optimum parameters for polymer molecular weight reduction. These parameters can then be used to directly scale up to pilot and/or production volumes.

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