Solid nanofoams based on cellulose nanofibers and indomethacin—the effect of processing parameters and drug content on material structure

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Graphical abstractThe unique colloidal properties of cellulose nanofibers (CNF), makes CNF a very interesting new excipient in pharmaceutical formulations, as CNF in combination with some poorly-soluble drugs can create nanofoams with closed cells. Previous nanofoams, created with the model drug indomethacin, demonstrated a prolonged release compared to films, owing to the tortuous diffusion path that the drug needs to take around the intact air-bubbles. However, the nanofoam was only obtained at a relatively low drug content of 21 wt% using fixed processing parameters. Herein, the effect of indomethacin content and processing parameters on the foaming properties was analysed. Results demonstrate that a certain amount of dissolved drug is needed to stabilize air-bubbles. At the same time, larger fractions of dissolved drug promote coarsening/collapse of the wet foam. The pendant drop/bubble profile tensiometry was used to verify the wet-foam stability at different pHs. The pH influenced the amount of solubilized drug and the processing-window was very narrow at high drug loadings. The results were compared to real foaming-experiments and solid state analysis of the final cellular solids. The parameters were assembled into a processing chart, highlighting the importance of the right combination of processing parameters (pH and time-point of pH adjustment) in order to successfully prepare cellular solid materials with up to 46 wt% drug loading.

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