The use of absorption enhancers to enhance the despersibility of spray-dried powders for pulmonary gene therapy

Hao-Ying Li, Peter C. Seville, I.J. Williamson, J.C. Birchall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pulmonary gene therapy requires aerosolisation of the gene vectors to the target region of the lower respiratory tract. Pulmonary absorption enhancers have been shown to improve the penetration of pharmaceutically active ingredients in the airway. In this study, we investigate whether certain absorption enhancers may also enhance the aerosolisation properties of spray-dried powders containing non-viral gene vectors. Methods: Spray-drying was used to prepare potentially respirable trehalose-based dry powders containing lipid-polycation-pDNA (LPD) vectors and absorption enhancers. Powder morphology and particle size were characterised using scanning electron microscopy and laser diffraction, respectively, with gel electrophoresis used to assess the structural integrity of the pDNA. The biological functionality of the powders was quantified using in vitro cell (A549) transfection. Aerosolisation from a Spinhaler® dry powder inhaler into a multistage liquid impinger (MSLI) was used to assess the in vitro dispersibility and deposition of the powders. Results: Spray-dried powder containing dimethyl-β-cyclodextrin (DMC) demonstrated substantially altered particle morphology and an optimal particle size distribution for pulmonary delivery. The inclusion of DMC did not adversely affect the structural integrity of the LPD complex and the powder displayed significantly greater transfection efficiency as compared to unmodified powder. All absorption enhancers proffered enhanced powder deposition characteristics, with the DMC-modified powder facilitating high deposition in the lower stages of the MSLI. Conclusions: Incorporation of absorption enhancers into non-viral gene therapy formulations prior to spray-drying can significantly enhance the aerosolisation properties of the resultant powder and increase biological functionality at the site of deposition in an in vitro model. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1043
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Gene Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


  • absorption enhancer
  • deposition
  • gene delivery
  • lung
  • non-viral
  • spray drying


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