Lipid Compositions in Infant Formulas Affect the Solubilization of Antimalarial Drugs Artefenomel (OZ439) and Ferroquine during Digestion

06 Jul 2020

Salim M, Ramirez G, Peng KY, Clulow AJ, Hawley A, Ramachandruni H, Beilles S, Boyd BJ

Molecular Pharmaceutics
PMID: 32574056

Doi: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.0c00475

Photo: Izzet Ugutmen/


Recent studies have shown that the solubilization of two antimalarial drug candidates, artefenomel (OZ439) and ferroquine (FQ), designed to provide a single-dose combination therapy for uncomplicated malaria can be enhanced using milk as a lipid-based formulation. However, milk as an excipient faces significant quality and regulatory hurdles. We therefore have investigated infant formula as a potential alternative formulation approach. The significance of the lipid species present in a formula with different lipid compositions upon the solubilization of OZ439 and FQ during digestion has been investigated. Synchrotron small-angle X-ray scattering was used to measure the diffraction from a dispersed drug during digestion and thereby determine the extent of drug solubilization. High-performance liquid chromatography was used to quantify the amount of drug partitioned into the digested lipid phases. Our results show that both the lipid species and the amount of lipids administered were key determinants for the solubilization of OZ439, while the solubilization of FQ was independent of the lipid composition. Infant formulas could therefore be designed and used as milk substitutes to tailor the desired level of drug solubilization while circumventing the variability of components in naturally derived milk. The enhanced solubilization of OZ439 was achieved during the digestion of medium-chain triacylglycerols (MCT), indicating the potential applicability of MCT-fortified infant formula powder as a lipid-based formulation for the oral delivery of OZ439 and FQ.