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Drug Discovery

Combinatorial Design

Combinatorial Design

Determining the exact or ideal combination of both active and inert ingredients for a desired formulation can be an extremely time consuming and tedious manual process. Hamilton’s automation solutions can greatly speed this process with a graphical design interface, automated ingredient addition and tracking of ingredient amounts and total sample composition, all while minimizing the overall volume of the prepared formulation sample.

The composition of a drug’s formulation protects the active ingredient outside the body, acts as the active ingredient's vehicle to the desired location inside the body and facilitates the rate at which an active ingredient is released once it has arrived at its target site.

Designing such a formulation uses the information gathered in the pre-formulation phase regarding physical characteristics of the active ingredient solubility, the ideal particle size necessary for the formulation and many other considerations. However, the development of such a formulation is largely dependent upon a “combinatorial design approach,” in which the active ingredient(s) is combined with several inert ingredients consisting of polymers, surfactants such as wetters, dispersants, disintegrants, lubricants, plasticizers, glidants, adhesives, binders, fillers and taste coatings such as varnish, sugar or wax. The active ingredient is paired with a variety of these components at differing weight percentages to create formulations that will be subjected to many performance tests. Preparing formulations to find the best or even a suitable formulation for a drug can take months or even years with a manual approach.

Hamilton's automation solutions can significantly reduce the cost and time of formulation development by providing software with a graphical plate-based (as seen in image below) or a worklist-based design approach, which allows scientists to specify the ingredients and at what weight percentage those ingredients should be added. Because the addition of ingredients is then performed by the automated liquid handler, all ingredient amounts are tracked and recorded, and the volume of the overall sample can be minimized to just a few milliliters in small tubes or SBS plates. The automated liquid handler can also move samples around for mixing, heating, chilling or hand-off to integrated devices such as a centrifuge, sonicator, evaporator, etc., to get the ingredients or formulation into a liquid or homogenous formulated state for downstream testing.