• Tablet fragmentation without a disintegrant: A novel design approach for accelerating disintegration and drug release from 3D printed cellulosic tablets

      Arafat, B.; Wojsz, M.; Isreb, A.; Forbes, R.T.; Isreb, Mohammad; Ahmed, W.; Arafat, T.; Alhnan, M.A. (2018-06-15)
      Fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printing has shown the most immediate potential for on-demand dose personalisation to suit particular patient's needs. However, FDM 3D printing often involves employing a relatively large molecular weight thermoplastic polymer and results in extended release pattern. It is therefore essential to fast-track drug release from the 3D printed objects. This work employed an innovative design approach of tablets with unique built-in gaps (Gaplets) with the aim of accelerating drug release. The novel tablet design is composed of 9 repeating units (blocks) connected with 3 bridges to allow the generation of 8 gaps. The impact of size of the block, the number of bridges and the spacing between different blocks was investigated. Increasing the inter-block space reduced mechanical resistance of the unit, however, tablets continued to meet pharmacopeial standards for friability. Upon introduction into gastric medium, the 1 mm spaces gaplet broke into mini-structures within 4 min and met the USP criteria of immediate release products (86.7% drug release at 30 min). Real-time ultraviolet (UV) imaging indicated that the cellulosic matrix expanded due to swelling of hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC) upon introduction to the dissolution medium. This was followed by a steady erosion of the polymeric matrix at a rate of 8 μm/min. The design approach was more efficient than a comparison conventional formulation approach of adding disintegrants to accelerate tablet disintegration and drug release. This work provides a novel example where computer-aided design was instrumental at modifying the performance of solid dosage forms. Such an example may serve as the foundation for a new generation of dosage forms with complicated geometric structures to achieve functionality that is usually achieved by a sophisticated formulation approach.