Preformulation investigation and challenges; salt formation, salt disproportionation and hepatic recirculation
A compound, which is a selective peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPAR) agonist, was investigated. The aim of the presented studies was to evaluate the potential of the further development of the compound. Fundamental physicochemical properties and stability of the compound were characterized in solution by liquid chromatography and NMR and in solid-state by various techniques. The drug itself is a lipophilic acid with tendency to form aggregates in solution. The neutral form was only obtained in amorphous form with a glass-transition temperature of approximately 0 °C. The intrinsic solubility at room temperature was determined to 0.03 mg/mL. Chemical stability studies of the compound in aqueous solutions showed good stability for at least two weeks at room temperature, except at pH 1, where a slight degradation was already observed after one day. The chemical stability in the amorphous solid-state was investigated during a period of three months. At 25 °C/60% relative humidity (RH) and 40 °C/75% RH no significant degradation was observed. At 80 °C, however, some degradation was observed after four weeks and approximately 3% after three months. In an accelerated photostability study, degradation of approximately 4% was observed. Attempts to identify a crystalline form of the neutral compound were unsuccessful, however, salt formation with tert-butylamine, resulted in crystalline material. Results from stability tests of the presented crystalline salt form indicated improved chemical stability at conditions whereas the amorphous neutral form degraded. However, the salt form of the drug dissociated under certain conditions. The drug was administered both per oral and intravenously, as amorphous nanoparticles, to conscious dogs. Plasma profiles showed curves with secondary absorption peaks, indicating hepatic recirculation following both administration routes. A similar behavior was observed in rats after oral administration of a pH-adjusted solution. The observed double peaks in plasma exposure and the dissociation tendency of the salt form, were properties that contributed to make further development of the candidate drug challenging. Options for development of solid dosage forms of both amorphous and crystalline material of the compound are discussed.