The use of polymeric matrices (“excipients”) to bind, store, solubilize, transport, and deliver functional small molecules (“actives”) is of widespread importance across an array of industries, and critical pharmaceutical, personal care, agrochemical, and food technology applications. The physical and chemical interactions between excipient and active exert a strong influence over the performance of a given system, dictating such crucial metrics as shelf-life and delivery efficacy (e.g., bioavailability). It is also often the case that these two attributes are in direct competition; strategies that might enhance shelf-life (e.g., large crystallites of active, very high excipient glass transition temperature) can alter the kinetics of dissolution/delivery as well as the active efficacy.
Due to such constraints, and other requirements dictated by a particular technology or application, the delivery of a promising new active often requires corresponding development of a new excipient system, or substantial modification of an existing one, by an approach that is largely Edisonian and time-consuming. Furthermore, as many formulations result in metastable (rather than equilibrium) states, processing history plays a complicated role in performance. It is the overarching goal of this project to understand the way molecular interactions dictate structure in active/excipient combinations, and thereby to enable rational design of efficient, modular and designer storage and delivery systems. Furthermore, by innovative macromolecular design, we aim to produce active/excipient blends in which control over nano- and microstructure can produce equilibrium mixtures, or at least mixtures with sufficiently well defined morphologies, that reliable prediction of performance is possible.
The overarching goal of this project is to develop new polymer-drug conjugates and understand the molecular interactions that dictate macromolecular/supramolecular assembly of these new materials into nano- and micro-architectures. The structure-activity relationships of the polymer-drug systems are being studied in detail in an effort to enable rational design of efficient and modular drug delivery systems to establish pharmaceutical guidelines for oral drug delivery applications.