Efforts to develop orally administered drugs tend to place an exceptional focus on aqueous solubility as this is an essential criterion for their absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. In this work we examine the solid state behavior and solubility of OZ439, a promising single-dose cure for malaria being developed as the highly water-soluble mesylate salt. The aqueous phase behavior of the OZ439 mesylate salt was determined using a combination of small angle neutron and X-ray scattering (SANS and SAXS, respectively).
It was found that this salt has low solubility at low concentrations with the drug largely precipitated in free base aggregates. However, with increasing concentration these crystalline aggregates were observed to dissociate into cationic micelles and lamellar phases, effectively increasing the dissolved drug concentration. It was also found that the dissolved OZ439 spontaneously precipitated in the presence of biologically relevant anions, which we attribute to the high lattice energies of most of the salt forms of the drug. These findings show that aqueous solubility is not always what it seems in the context of amphiphilic drug molecules and highlights that its use as the principal metric in selecting drug candidates for development can be perilous.
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